Young motorists ‘driving themselves to distraction’

Most drivers do not believes higher penalties for using a hand-held mobile phone will deter drivers.

Most drivers do not believes higher penalties for using a hand-held mobile phone will deter drivers. - Credit: PA

More than four in 10 young drivers admit to having used a mobile phone while driving, according to a new survey – but 23% have had an accident or near-miss in the last year.

The research on driver distractions, carried out by Goodyear Tyres as part of its Young Driver programme, questioned 1,000 drivers aged 17 to 25 about their behaviour behind the wheel.

And distractions are a big problem, with 18% saying they had driven through a red light after letting their mind wander.

The most common distraction is food and drink, with 48% saying they knew the had been distracted while eating or drinking. Next-most common was 'looking at something outside the car', on 44%.

Then 42% said they had used a phone at the wheel, although it's possible that withheld truths due to shame might have made this figure smaller than it really is.

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A third said changing a CD or radio station had distracted them, while 27% reported the same but for using music streaming apps.

Some 13% had become distracted through applying make-up or skincare products, and 12% had forgotten the important business of driving because they were doing their hair.

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Kate Rock, Goodyear Tyres spokesman, said the results were worrying.

'The worrying statistic is that over a quarter of those young drivers who had a near-miss or accident didn't tell their parents about it.

'This increases to one in three of drivers aged 17-19 years old who keep the collision a secret.'

Carly Brookfield, chief executive of the Driving Instructors Association, said: 'Teaching new drivers how important it is to keep concentration while behind the wheel is one of the most important things our instructors do.

'It's crucial this issue remains a talking point when it comes to improving road safety for young drivers.'

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