IT may sit in the palm of your hand but the mobile phone is motorists’ weapon of mass distraction.
Using the communications device appears three times on a list of the 10 worst distractions for drivers in a New Zealand survey carried by AA Insurance.
It found texting while driving came out on top while talking on a mobile phone, with or without a handsfree kit, also diverted attention from the road.
Despite 92 per cent of the 1000 drivers surveyed found texting an irritant while behind the wheel almost 20 per cent still send texts illegally while driving.
“Drivers continue to risk their safety, and the safety of others, by using a mobile phone while driving,” said AA Insurance customer relations head Suzanne Wolton.
“Every time you become distracted by checking or using your mobile phone while driving means you aren’t focused on the road, and this can result in serious or expensive consequences.”
Other major distractions include reading, personal grooming and fiddling with stereos or music players.
Wolton said people should keep mobiles on silent or activate an auto-reply to text messages while driving to avoid the temptation to answer them. Planning routes and music choices can help concentration remain on the road.
Top 10 Driver Distractions* (Source: AA Insurance Driver Index survey 2012-2013)
1. Texting on a mobile phone
2. Reading a newspaper or magazine etc
3. Personal grooming ie applying make-up, shaving
4. Talking on a mobile phone WITHOUT a handsfree kit
5. Changing the radio/iPod/MP3 player
6. Using GPS or other navigation system
7. Eating while driving
8. Children in the car
9. Talking on a mobile phone WITH a handsfree kit
10. Tenth equal: Billboards /outdoor advertising & people outside the vehicle
*To calculate the Top 10 Distractions, AA Insurance surveyed 1,000 regular drivers (who drive at least once a week) aged 18 years or over, and who own their car, to rate their level of distraction against a pre-defined selection of 12 distractions. The maximum margin of error on the total sample of n=1000 is 3.1% at the 95% confidence level.