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Research conducted for IAM finds younger drivers much more likely to let their attention wander

Four in ten drivers across the UK admit that they fail to concentrate at times when behind the wheel - rising to nearly half of motorists in London, the South West, Yorkshire & Humberside and Scotland, according to a new poll.

Research firm Vision Critical polled 1,447 motorists on behalf of road safety charity, IAM, with the survey also finding that while almost three quarters of drivers aged over 65 said that they concentrate on the road all of the time, and a further 26 per cent that they do so most of the time.

The picture is different among younger drivers, however - 50 per cent of 18-24-year-olds admit that they do not concentrate all of the time, with 25-34-year-olds close behind at 47 per cent.

Reasons given for lack of concentration included daydreaming at 24 per cent, stress (22 per cent), drivers thinking about what they will do when they arrive at their destination, and thinking about family and friends or personal relationships.

Regionally, drivers in Wales were less likely than those elsewhere to maintain their concentration - nearly two in three, 64 per cent, claimed to do so all the time.

The breakdown by region of the percentages of motorists who admit not concentrating all the time is:

London                     47
Yorkshire & Humberside     46
South West                 46
Scotland                   46
East                       42
East Midlands              40
North West                 39
South East                 39
West Midlands              37
North East                 34
Wales                      34

As reports of court cases on road.cc regularlt highlight, failure to see a cyclist is the cause of a high proportion of road traffic incidents in which a bike rider is the victim, and it seems reasonable to assume that drivers failing to concentrate, or being distracted by devices such as smartphones, is a factor in many of them.

Since 2009, national cyclists' organisation CTC has been running its 'Stop SMIDSY' campaign, the acronym referring to the phrase "Sorry mate, I didn't see you" that is often used as an excuse by motorists following a collision or near miss with a bike rider.

Londoners are most likely to be distracted while driving, with forty-seven per cent admitting to not concentrating one hundred per cent on the road.  Yorkshire and Humberside, the South West and Scotland were not far behind with 46%.

Simon Best, IAM's chief executive, commented: “Signs of not concentrating such as missed turnings or uncancelled indicator lights are commonplace. 

"Simply not concentrating is a key cause of crashes yet it is not borne out in statistics because drivers rarely admit to it in police reports or on insurance forms.

“These results reconfirm stereotypes surrounding younger drivers and the ease with which they can be distracted away from staying safe. 

"The key is to build up as wide a range of experiences as possible as you learn and to look upon your driving as a skill that needs continuous improvement.”

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

19 comments

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MxQueen [5 posts] 2 years ago
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Noone concentrates perfectly while on the road all the time. The question being asked is so broad it would seem reasonable enough to say "4 in ten people have an awareness of concentration lapses while driving, the rest just don't notice it happening".

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hoski [83 posts] 2 years ago
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MxQueen wrote:

Noone concentrates perfectly while on the road all the time. The question being asked is so broad it would seem reasonable enough to say "4 in ten people have an awareness of concentration lapses while driving, the rest just don't notice it happening".

Indeed. The stand out headline from this for me is '6 in 10 motorists think they are concentrating 100% of the time', which for me is a tad worrying.

We all lose concentration sometimes, hence me nearly cycling into the back of a stationary Audi yesterday. The whole point is to realise this an create appropriate strategies to ensure we minimise risk firstly to those around us and secondly to ourselves.

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bikebot [2149 posts] 2 years ago
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Odd survey, "4 out of 10 admit losing concentration". Presumably the other 6 out of 10 just aren't aware that it happens, or they lied.

Everyone that drives will fail to concentrate at some point, because we're not computers. The safety concern is about drivers unnecessarily distracting themselves (phones, satnavs etc), or driving when they shouldn't (tired, drunk, medicated).

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racyrich [272 posts] 2 years ago
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I'll relate the same old story I tell everytime one of these 'driver distraction' surveys appears.

An old clubmate of mine was an RAF pilot, and he wouldn't drive for more than 2 hours at a time as he didn't feel able to give it the attention he felt it deserved.

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nowasps [488 posts] 2 years ago
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6 out of ten motorists tell lies in surveys.

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Leodis [407 posts] 2 years ago
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At times I can't remember my commute, its all auto pilot.

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Nick T [971 posts] 2 years ago
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I lost concentration twice while reading this.

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mrmo [2093 posts] 2 years ago
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maybe young drivers are more aware of their failings?

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Simon E [2851 posts] 2 years ago
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Nick T wrote:

I lost concentration twice while reading this.

But were you driving at the time?

A recent article by Bez which I think is on a related subject:
http://beyondthekerb.wordpress.com/2014/01/21/from-out-of-nowhere/

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pique [20 posts] 2 years ago
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Drivers in London spend a lot of their time sitting in traffic jams. Don't need much concentration for that.

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Yorkshie Whippet [554 posts] 2 years ago
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Simon E wrote:
Nick T wrote:

I lost concentration twice while reading this.

But were you driving at the time?

A recent article by Bez which I think is on a related subject:
http://beyondthekerb.wordpress.com/2014/01/21/from-out-of-nowhere/

Hmm a very thoughtful and thought provoking piece.

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jarredscycling [456 posts] 2 years ago
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so the real number is more like 9 out of 10

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KeithBird [5 posts] 2 years ago
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Everyone loses concentration when driving.
The important thing is accepting that, and mitigating against it.
Proper distance from other vehicles/road users.
Car in proper condition, including lights on and windscreen clear in winter conditions!
So on and so on. Biggest issue I see every day when driving is zombie mode driving whilst less than half a second from car in front regardless of speed/conditions. No room for those concentration lapses.

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burtthebike [497 posts] 2 years ago
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The main reason that drivers do not concentrate is because they feel so safe and divorced from the real world, cocooned in their steel cage with roll bars, seat belts, air bags, air-con, massive stereos etc. Surely that is the reason there is such a difference in the responsibility for collisions between cyclists and drivers, with drivers responsible for three times as many. If drivers were to feel as threatened by collisions as cyclists, I'm sure their attention wouldn't wander anywhere near as much. 12" rusty bayonet in the middle of the steering wheel and no seat belt spring to mind.

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Sedgepeat [93 posts] 2 years ago
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I cannot emphasise enough that while driving, it is the most important issue for anyone no matter the purpose of the drive. Even to get to a gravely ill relative at that moment, that must be secondary.

Unfotunately, because driving is a routine and humans are human, other distractions and issues are allowed to encroach.

If we handed drivers a grenade or loaded machine gun they would be concentrating yet motor vehicles are more lethal.

Again it's a wonder that accident rates in the UK are much better than this poll would have us think but it should be pretty cheap to run a concentrate campaign every now and then. It may help.

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yenrod [106 posts] 2 years ago
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You never hear of a cyclist navigating without due care and attention - I seen a few before on a cycle whereby it started hailing & snowing - strange how the drivers gave me some degree of respect when that happened...seems they only slow when the ground goes white.

Motorists just love being part of a procession even though this cause's them to 'lose concerntration'.

Interstingly when i ride theirs NOTHING LIKE a cyclist to emit competitive tendencies ie the other day i had a female motorist swear blind she stopped at a t junction when plain as day I seen her drift out like she was either on the phone or 'distracted' - i was only doing 25 at the time good job i anticipated it happening.

Why is it that cyclists are berated on the roads yet we have to take notice THE MOST !, everything, road surface, cars, people, motorists, weather, lights, looking out for other drivers for their own good - prior to xmas i nearly got taken out by a private taxi who wasnt intending to stop at a roundabout - good job i looked...even though i had right of way - soo floored was this bloke that he drifted across the road then realised how much of a jerk he was driving: WHY is it always the cyclist who wakes the car driver up, sometimes coming off worse.

How is it that the courts protect this form of motoring ? ok they pay taxes, we all do...

I've been riding for 25yrs i think and it never changed.

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geargrinderbeard [96 posts] 2 years ago
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I wish I had a job in the Ministry of Stating the Obvious...

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hood [117 posts] 2 years ago
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I unwind, daydream and think of my "list of things to do" sometimes when i cycle. These thoughts use different parts of th brain. I don't do it intensely or often. Its just how we work - our minds think of different stuff. Not 100% on one thing for an entire hour/half hour. We aren't robots

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ironmancole [327 posts] 2 years ago
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Yet more reason to consider slowing everything down isn't it? Those are depressingly scary numbers aren't they and it would explain a great deal.

Quite how anyone in authority thinks its fine for a country lane to have a 60mph limit on it whilst a modern motorway with vastly superior sight lines, access to emergency care, traffic flowing in one direction, decent road surface and drainage allows 70mph still baffles me.

Surely if this is the reality we should be forcing everyone to slow down, purely to increase the chance the daydreamer has to return to planet earth before he hits anyone?...accidentally of course  102