‘Significant hardcore’ continue to use mobile phones – RAC

Nearly a quarter of drivers are making or receiving calls on a handheld phone while at the wheel, a new survey suggests

The 2019 RAC Report on Motoring, published on 14 October, found the use of mobile phones to be the top concern among drivers – cited by 12% of respondents.

Despite this, 23% of those surveyed confess to making or receiving calls ‘at least occasionally’. The figure is much higher among young drivers (17-24 years) – with 51% admitting to the offence.

Meanwhile, 17% of all drivers – and 35% of under-25 year-olds – say they check texts, email or social media while driving, despite the heightened level of risk involved in looking away from the road for seconds at a time.

Only a small minority of drivers (15%) follow official Government advice to put their phone in their glove compartment while driving: most people either keep their phone in a pocket or bag (45%) or put it on the seat or console next to them (25%).

Road-rage on the rise?
The RAC’s annual report, based on a survey of more than 1,750 UK motorists, reveals drivers’ attitudes and concerns and paints a picture of how and why car owners’ views are evolving over time.

Nearly a third of respondents (30%) say they have personally witnessed some form of physical abuse related to a driving incident in the past 12 months.

Almost half claim to have seen verbal abuse dished out to another motorist, while 60% say they see a greater number of road-rage incidents now than they did 10 years ago.

Simon Williams, RAC road safety spokesperson, said: “All the fears associated with the behaviour of other drivers on the road have never featured as highly in our research as top motoring concerns as they have this year.

“This is primarily due to double the proportion of people ranking the aggressive behaviour of other drivers as their top concern this year (4% to 8%).

“Drivers using handheld mobile phones, drink-driving, drug-driving and breaking traffic laws remained as number-one concerns for similar proportions of motorists to last year’s research.

“This means people must have experienced some very disturbing aggressive behaviour on the UK’s roads in the last year for them all to rank in top spot together.

“The most likely explanation must surely be a combination of factors including the pressure of modern life, reliance on the car for so many journeys, record volumes of traffic and congestion leading to never before seen frustration at the wheel.

“Perhaps it is also the case that our tolerance of other people who make mistakes while driving is falling.

“A quick sorry in the form of an apologetic wave could go a long way to taking the heat out of a situation, but unfortunately all too often it is a hand gesture of another sort that leads to an unpleasant car confrontation.”

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