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Millions of British drivers could fall foul of new on-the-spot-fines

04 June 2013

With the government announcing a crackdown on drivers whose bad habits are making our roads more dangerous, research from Gocompare.com has revealed the UK as a nation of distracted drivers, with more than 20 million* (72%) admitting to multitasking while behind the wheel.

The survey found that a third (31%) of UK motorists have spoken on the phone without using a hands-free kit, and nearly a third (30%) admitted that they have read a text message whilst driving - offences which, under the new measures being introduced in July, will now land people with an increased fine of £100, as well as points on their licence. It also seems that some Brits would literally be lost without their mobiles when on the road as almost a quarter of drivers (23%) confessed to using their smartphone for directions while behind the wheel.

UK drivers' top five bad habits behind the wheel:

  • Eating - 69%
  • Smoking - 34%
  • Speaking on the phone while holding it - 31%
  • Reading a text message - 30%
  • Using a smartphone for directions - 23%

When it comes to multitasking while motoring, the age group most likely to be distracted behind the wheel were the 25-34 year olds.

Almost half (48%) of 25-34 year olds admitted they had read and sent texts while driving, with a staggering  54% saying they had spoken on their phone in the car without using a hands-free kit. What is more, nearly 1 in 3 (32%) said that they had checked emails as they drove, with 1 in 5 (22%) confessing that they had actually written emails while behind the wheel.

Gocompare.com's research also shows that it's not just phones that make the 25-34 year old age group the most distracted drivers. Two thirds (69%) said that they had eaten when driving. On a less healthy note, 1 in 3 (34%) admitted to smoking in the car.

Scott Kelly, head of motor at Gocompare.com, said: "There's a considerable difference between bad habits behind the wheel and illegal ones. While smoking or eating on the road may just be ill-advised activities, finishing off a report, sending emails or making a call whilst driving could land you in financial and legal trouble.

"Our research found that 25-34 year old drivers were most likely to be distracted by their phones. It's not surprising, then, that our data shows that drivers in this age bracket hold the highest proportion of convictions for using a handset at the wheel (out of people who had a CU80 conviction, 36% were 25-34 year olds), and for failing to comply at traffic light signals (out of people who had a TS10 conviction, 30% were 25-34 year olds**).

"These bad habits can come at a price - not just in the form of the soon-to-be £100 fines, up from the £60 currently charged, but also through increased insurance premiums. For example, we found that a CU80 or TS10 conviction could each add around £90 to a 25 year old driver's annual premium - but having both could cost them around £230 more***. 

"We all feel like sometimes there aren't enough hours in the day, and mobile technology means that we often end up working out of hours or on the hoof. But trying to multitask while driving is dangerous and, if you're caught, a conviction could see you face fines, points on your licence, higher car insurance premiums and even a driving ban, which could affect your employment. It's ironic that people who can't switch off from work face the possibility of losing their job because of it."


Notes to editors

On the 29th March- 2nd April 2013, Vision Critical conducted an online survey among 1,237 randomly selected UK drivers who are Springboard UK panellists. The margin of error-which measures sampling variability-is +/- 2.2%. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and regional data to ensure samples representative of the entire adult population of United Kingdom. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

* Over 20 million figure based on there being an estimated 28,240,877 motorists in the UK (Source- the Department for Transport vehicle licencing statists) - 72% of respondents admitted to multitasking while driving - 72% of 28,420,877 is 20,463,031. All figures in millions are based on this number.

**Data retrieved from real Gocompare.com customers who indicated they had a driving offence when retrieving a quote from Gocompare.com. Data retrieved April 2013. CU80 held by 1.77% of 25-34 year old drivers, TS10 held by 1.15% of 25-34 year old drivers

***Figures based on quote retrieved 18th April 2013 for a 25 year old social worker from Bath driving a 2007 Volkswagen Golf Spot TDI. Cheapest quote without convictions was £506.69 from BG, cheapest quote with a CU80 conviction was £595.95, cheapest quote with a TS01 conviction was £595.92 from Lancaster and cheapest quote with both a CU80 and TS10 was £737.25 from Lancaster