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4 in 10 motorists admit losing concentration at the wheel, according to survey

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 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 joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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