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.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.