Survey from Ford once again highlights danger of smartphone usage at wheel

The danger posed by motorists using smartphones while at the wheel has once again been highlighted by a survey which reveals that one in three drivers aged 18-24 have admitted taking a selfie.

According to the poll of 7,000 smartphone users from that age group throughout Europe, carried out on behalf of Ford Motor Company, the levels of motorists from Great Britain admitting such behaviour was the highest among the seven countries surveyed.

While 33 per cent of British drivers within that age group admitted taking a picture of themselves while driving, the figures dropped to 28 per cent in both Germany and Spain, 27 per cent in Romania, 26 per cent in Italy, 18 per cent in Spain and 17 per cent in Belgium.

According to Ford, taking a selfie can distract a driver for 14 seconds – time enough to travel around 205 yards at a speed of 30 miles an hour.

In line with previous research including a 2012 survey from road safety charity IAM which have found that using social media while driving can be more hazardous than driving under the influence of drink or drugs, Ford says that checking posts on sites such as Facebook or Twitter can be even more distracting, leading motorists to take their eyes off the road for up to 20 seconds.

Ford has also produced a short video called The killer selfie: a tragic love story which provides a stark warning of the potential consequences of such behaviour.

Jim Graham, manager of Ford’s Driving Skills for Life programme, said: ''Taking a selfie has for many young people quickly become an integral part of everyday life.

“But it's the last thing you should be doing behind the wheel of a car.

''It is deeply worrying that so many young drivers admit to taking a photo while driving and we will be doing all we can to highlight the potential dangers through driver education."

Previous research from Ford, which launched its Driving Skills for Life programme in the UK in June this year, has found that 18-24-year-olds are at nearly twice as much risk of being killed in a road traffic collision than people from any other age group.

Last month, it emerged that a Frenchman had been given a two-year suspended prison sentence in Spain after posting a video to YouTube that showed him filming himself sitting in the passenger seat of a car while on a motorway near Barcelona – only for the clip to subsequently reveal that he was actually driving the car at the time.

The man, named only as Eric P, turned himself in after an appeal by Spanish police on Twitter to discover the identity of the driver went viral. He was also banned from driving for a year, the London Evening Standard reported.

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.