Home
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.

16 comments

Avatar
Kim [228 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Why is it that British drivers are more likely to admit to driving badly? Is it because dangerous driving is more social acceptable here? Certainly we do less to hold divers to account here, after all we don't even have Strict Liability.

Avatar
OldRidgeback [2620 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

British drivers are actually less likely to drive badly than just about anywhere in the world, other than Sweden, Norway or Iceland. The fatality rate on the road network in Italy is twice that of the UK, while Thailand's fatality rate is about 10x that of the UK, and they both have similar population sizes.

Drivers just about everywhere use cellphones at the wheel.

Avatar
FluffyKittenofT... [1198 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
OldRidgeback wrote:

British drivers are actually less likely to drive badly than just about anywhere in the world, other than Sweden, Norway or Iceland. The fatality rate on the road network in Italy is twice that of the UK, while Thailand's fatality rate is about 10x that of the UK, and they both have similar population sizes.

Drivers just about everywhere use cellphones at the wheel.

I don't think British drivers are especially brilliant if you exclude all the less-developed nations (where every cause of violent and accidental death tends to be far higher) and only consider northern Europe and North America.
It also depends how you measure 'fatality rate' (per capita? per car? per mile driven?)

In any case surely the relevant comparison isn't with other countries its with that foreign country called 'the past', where mobile phones weren't the pestilent scourge they are today!

Avatar
truffy [653 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Perhaps both mobile phones and cars should both be banned?

Sick to death of speed traps but absolutely no police on the road to deal with arseholes using their phones while driving (badly).

Avatar
Simon E [2720 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
truffy wrote:

Sick to death of speed traps but absolutely no police on the road to deal with arseholes using their phones while driving (badly).

We wouldn't need speed traps if drivers respected the speed limit. Or double white lines, 'No overtaking' signs, etc etc etc.

Unless the government pays for more officers then I'd prefer to see more cameras in use, and preferably 'stealth' unmarked mobile units. But even that won't really address the problem. I know of a local cyclist who had a very close call this week when a woman using a mobile lost control of her car and swerved across the road and crashed a few yards in front of him. She should be banned from driving.

Avatar
pwake [376 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Kudos to Ford.

Avatar
kie7077 [877 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Selfies, texting, facebook checking, talking on the phone (hands free is still dangerous), and all of the 'you don't pay road tax' cyclist haters, Is it any wonder that serious injuries to cyclists is no better now than it was 25 years ago and cyclist injury rates are increasing rapidly.

But hey, if we all wear magic polystyrene hats, that'll fix everything.

Avatar
oldstrath [614 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
OldRidgeback wrote:

British drivers are actually less likely to drive badly than just about anywhere in the world, other than Sweden, Norway or Iceland. The fatality rate on the road network in Italy is twice that of the UK, while Thailand's fatality rate is about 10x that of the UK, and they both have similar population sizes.

Drivers just about everywhere use cellphones at the wheel.

So what. The possibility that we have marginally fewer murderous cretins driving death wagons than other countries is a pretty poor reason not to deal with the non-zero number we do have.

Avatar
workhard [397 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Only one-in-three? Or only one-in-three were prepared/dumb enough to admit it/boast about it.

Avatar
OldRidgeback [2620 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:
OldRidgeback wrote:

British drivers are actually less likely to drive badly than just about anywhere in the world, other than Sweden, Norway or Iceland. The fatality rate on the road network in Italy is twice that of the UK, while Thailand's fatality rate is about 10x that of the UK, and they both have similar population sizes.

Drivers just about everywhere use cellphones at the wheel.

I don't think British drivers are especially brilliant if you exclude all the less-developed nations (where every cause of violent and accidental death tends to be far higher) and only consider northern Europe and North America.
It also depends how you measure 'fatality rate' (per capita? per car? per mile driven?)

In any case surely the relevant comparison isn't with other countries its with that foreign country called 'the past', where mobile phones weren't the pestilent scourge they are today!

Well actually they are. The UK's roads are about the third safest anywhere in the world. if you think drivers are bad here you should do some more overseas travelling, and not just to developing countries either. the rate of cellphone use by drivers in the US is even higher than in the UK, as is the rate of drink driving. So it's no surprise the fatality rate is higher/million miles driven either. You can shake down the statistics anyway you like but the UK is one of the safest countries in the world in terms of road use and broadly, the death rate is dropping. Back in the 70s it was significantly higher than today and for all types of road users.

Avatar
OldRidgeback [2620 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
oldstrath wrote:
OldRidgeback wrote:

British drivers are actually less likely to drive badly than just about anywhere in the world, other than Sweden, Norway or Iceland. The fatality rate on the road network in Italy is twice that of the UK, while Thailand's fatality rate is about 10x that of the UK, and they both have similar population sizes.

Drivers just about everywhere use cellphones at the wheel.

So what. The possibility that we have marginally fewer murderous cretins driving death wagons than other countries is a pretty poor reason not to deal with the non-zero number we do have.

I didn't say anything about not tackling the issue. Cellphone use at the wheel has to be recognised as being anti social in the same way that drink driving was about 30 years ago.

But I do think assuming we have it worse here is part of the problem rather than the answer.

Avatar
FluffyKittenofT... [1198 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
OldRidgeback wrote:

Well actually they are. The UK's roads are about the third safest anywhere in the world. if you think drivers are bad here you should do some more overseas travelling, and not just to developing countries either. the rate of cellphone use by drivers in the US is even higher than in the UK, as is the rate of drink driving. So it's no surprise the fatality rate is higher/million miles driven either. You can shake down the statistics anyway you like but the UK is one of the safest countries in the world in terms of road use and broadly, the death rate is dropping. Back in the 70s it was significantly higher than today and for all types of road users.

Yes its been dropping for a while, but my point was that the plague of mobile-phone use is a countervailing trend to that existing one. In that one respect the past was better (also better in that people didn't expect to be able to get hold of you at any time and get annoyed if they can't!)

And, its a slightly different topic, but I don't think the picture is entirely rosy when it comes to how our road culture has changed.

I would still argue the raw statistics can hide many things - lowered casualty rates due to things like crumple zones in cars, or fences preventing pedestrians from crossing the road doesn't help me. Nor are lowered death rates due to better A&E care necessarily relevant.

Above all, lowered rates due to people walking or cycling less aren't anything to be happy about.

Bit ironic that you are arguing that the US is worse - it wasn't long ago I was on here disagreeing with someone who was saying the exact opposite.

Certainly I know first hand there are certain US states with a truly terrible record on drunk driving but I think it varies a lot by state, plus you can't just compare rates and declare either drivers to be better or worse, you have to account for the radically different driving conditions (a higher proportion of very long highway journeys and a lower portion on crowded city roads, in the US for example, a larger number of very poorly maintained roads, etc). Its not a straight-forward matter to compare the two (as I found when I went and looked into it after previously being on the other side of this argument)

Plus there are also the death rates due to traffic pollution. I think those are actually higher than the rate due to accidents. Drivers don't need to drive badly to kill.

Avatar
BikeJon [144 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

My goodness - taking 'selfies' whilst driving? That's staggering! I get annoyed enough with people walking across my path in town whilst glued to their phones but doing this on the open roads defies belief really. Obviously we all see plenty of people chatting into mobile phones whilst driving but I also frequently see people simply holding their phones whilst driving. They are not actually using them but just cannot even bare to part with them for a few moments. I just don't get it.
I'm a big mobile phone user and love all the apps and stuff but there really is a time and a place.

Avatar
BikeBud [205 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
pwake wrote:

Kudos to Ford.

Ford, who are building mobile functionality into their cars encouraging people to respond to texts rather than concentrating on driving!

Avatar
OldRidgeback [2620 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:
OldRidgeback wrote:

Well actually they are. The UK's roads are about the third safest anywhere in the world. if you think drivers are bad here you should do some more overseas travelling, and not just to developing countries either. the rate of cellphone use by drivers in the US is even higher than in the UK, as is the rate of drink driving. So it's no surprise the fatality rate is higher/million miles driven either. You can shake down the statistics anyway you like but the UK is one of the safest countries in the world in terms of road use and broadly, the death rate is dropping. Back in the 70s it was significantly higher than today and for all types of road users.

Yes its been dropping for a while, but my point was that the plague of mobile-phone use is a countervailing trend to that existing one. In that one respect the past was better (also better in that people didn't expect to be able to get hold of you at any time and get annoyed if they can't!)

And, its a slightly different topic, but I don't think the picture is entirely rosy when it comes to how our road culture has changed.

I would still argue the raw statistics can hide many things - lowered casualty rates due to things like crumple zones in cars, or fences preventing pedestrians from crossing the road doesn't help me. Nor are lowered death rates due to better A&E care necessarily relevant.

Above all, lowered rates due to people walking or cycling less aren't anything to be happy about.

Bit ironic that you are arguing that the US is worse - it wasn't long ago I was on here disagreeing with someone who was saying the exact opposite.

Certainly I know first hand there are certain US states with a truly terrible record on drunk driving but I think it varies a lot by state, plus you can't just compare rates and declare either drivers to be better or worse, you have to account for the radically different driving conditions (a higher proportion of very long highway journeys and a lower portion on crowded city roads, in the US for example, a larger number of very poorly maintained roads, etc). Its not a straight-forward matter to compare the two (as I found when I went and looked into it after previously being on the other side of this argument)

Plus there are also the death rates due to traffic pollution. I think those are actually higher than the rate due to accidents. Drivers don't need to drive badly to kill.

I agree that cellphone use while driving is a plague. I don't know who was arguing conditions are better in the US than in the UK, but that goes completely against data from the FHWA/NHTSA and DfT, which arepretty clear on the facts. Even the best US states for road safety aren't quite as good as the UK and the worst (Florida from memory) are horrendous.

Better safety features for cars like improved brakes and crumple zones have helped cut the death toll, as have improved rapid response emergency care.
But the real benefit outstripping everything in reducing the death toll on the roads has been accepting that drink driving is dangerous, anti social behaviour.

We need to make people aware cellphone use at the wheel is just as stupid as drink driving, and the penalties for offenders need to be brought into line. Until those using a phone while at the wheel receive a 12 month ban, no-one will take the offence seriously. The fines at present are paltry.

Avatar
OldRidgeback [2620 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:
OldRidgeback wrote:

Well actually they are. The UK's roads are about the third safest anywhere in the world. if you think drivers are bad here you should do some more overseas travelling, and not just to developing countries either. the rate of cellphone use by drivers in the US is even higher than in the UK, as is the rate of drink driving. So it's no surprise the fatality rate is higher/million miles driven either. You can shake down the statistics anyway you like but the UK is one of the safest countries in the world in terms of road use and broadly, the death rate is dropping. Back in the 70s it was significantly higher than today and for all types of road users.

Yes its been dropping for a while, but my point was that the plague of mobile-phone use is a countervailing trend to that existing one. In that one respect the past was better (also better in that people didn't expect to be able to get hold of you at any time and get annoyed if they can't!)

And, its a slightly different topic, but I don't think the picture is entirely rosy when it comes to how our road culture has changed.

I would still argue the raw statistics can hide many things - lowered casualty rates due to things like crumple zones in cars, or fences preventing pedestrians from crossing the road doesn't help me. Nor are lowered death rates due to better A&E care necessarily relevant.

Above all, lowered rates due to people walking or cycling less aren't anything to be happy about.

Bit ironic that you are arguing that the US is worse - it wasn't long ago I was on here disagreeing with someone who was saying the exact opposite.

Certainly I know first hand there are certain US states with a truly terrible record on drunk driving but I think it varies a lot by state, plus you can't just compare rates and declare either drivers to be better or worse, you have to account for the radically different driving conditions (a higher proportion of very long highway journeys and a lower portion on crowded city roads, in the US for example, a larger number of very poorly maintained roads, etc). Its not a straight-forward matter to compare the two (as I found when I went and looked into it after previously being on the other side of this argument)

Plus there are also the death rates due to traffic pollution. I think those are actually higher than the rate due to accidents. Drivers don't need to drive badly to kill.

I agree that cellphone use while driving is a plague. I don't know who was arguing conditions are better in the US than in the UK, but that goes completely against data from the FHWA/NHTSA and DfT, which arepretty clear on the facts. Even the best US states for road safety aren't quite as good as the UK and the worst (Florida from memory) are horrendous.

Better safety features for cars like improved brakes and crumple zones have helped cut the death toll, as have improved rapid response emergency care.
But the real benefit outstripping everything in reducing the death toll on the roads has been accepting that drink driving is dangerous, anti social behaviour.

We need to make people aware cellphone use at the wheel is just as stupid as drink driving, and the penalties for offenders need to be brought into line. Until those using a phone while at the wheel receive a 12 month ban, no-one will take the offence seriously. The fines at present are paltry.