Raising awareness of in-vehicle distraction

Every 22 minutes, someone is killed or seriously injured on UK roads*. Driver distraction is a contributory factor and a serious road safety problem.

That’s why for the month of April, companies are getting behind Distracted Driver Awareness Month, including Driver Hire which is committed to helping promote safer driving.

Each time a driver gets behind the wheel of any vehicle, they complete a complex and mentally demanding task. But as drivers become more experienced, they may treat it as an automatic process which needs little thought – yet research clearly shows that all driving requires focused attention.

What’s more, whilst many drivers accept that others get distracted, they often over-estimate their own capabilities.

If more drivers can be convinced that they’re as prone to distraction as everyone else, we could see a shift in driver behaviour as a whole – and safer roads as a result.

Types of in-vehicle distractions include:

Mobile phone use

• 1 in 6 drivers admitted to using their phone while driving within a 12 month period**

• The Department for Transport reported 17 deaths and over 100 serious injuries in 2020, as a result of drivers using their mobile phone behind the wheel

Stricter laws came into force on 25 March 2022 in Great Britain – offence is triggered whenever a driver holds a device, regardless of why they’re holding it

• Whilst hand-free is billed the ‘safe’ alternative to hand-held use, drivers using hands-free are four times more likely to be involved in a collision**

Eating and drinking

• Drivers who eat and drink while behind the wheel are twice as likely to crash

• By diverting a driver’s attention away from the driving task, reaction times increase by up to 44% – meaning drivers will respond to hazards much more slowly

• It’s also a physical distraction, as at least one hand is off the wheel holding food or drink

Smoking and vaping

Various studies have found smoking while driving increases crash risk due to;

• Physical and mental distraction of lighting a cigarette

• Smoke or vapour impairing driver’s vision

• Distraction caused from a lit cigarette falling into the driver’s lap

In-vehicle technology

Although some tech can improve safety (speed limiters, park-assist, automatic braking etc.), it could encourage drivers to feel they have ‘spare attention’ for other things e.g. accessing entertainment systems or engaging in communications.

So, what can we do to help? Raising awareness of the dangers to others, along with driver training, can certainly help improve safety on our roads. Driver Hire Training offers a range of safety-focused courses including Highway Code & Spotting HazardsDriver Risk Awareness and Vehicle & Personal Safety.

If you would like further information on driver training, please visit the Driver Hire Training website. If you need help with recruitment or are looking for a new opportunity, get in touch with your local Driver Hire office today.

*Statistics from Brake, the road safety charity **Statistics and information taken from ‘In-vehicle distraction’ report produced the Brake, the road safety charity and Direct Line