Social media and FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) could be putting road-users at risk, as motorists admit to checking social networking sites and reading messages on their phones while driving.

In fact, figures obtained by the Press Association under the Freedom of Information Act indicate that, after the introduction of stiffer penalties, police caught nearly 6,000 drivers using their devices behind the wheel.

Insurers Aviva have subsequently put together their Bad Thinking report to highlight the issue and here are some of the key findings:

  • 50% of those who used their mobile behind the wheel have answered a call without a hands-free kit
  • A quarter of drivers who check their phones are on Facebook while driving
  • One in eight drivers have uploaded a photo or video on their mobile behind the wheel
  • Over a third (37%) of drivers keep their phones in their pockets

Sgt Neil Dewson-Smyth from Cheshire Police said: “Any use of a mobile phone whilst driving is dangerous. Even a hands-free call is a distraction and recent studies support this.

“The livestream behaviour, for me, adds additional load on the driver. Holding the phone, reading comments and performing all mean the driver is focused far too much on what they are doing and who they can entertain or impress and not on their driving. That puts them, passengers, other drivers and pedestrians at hugely increased risk.”

“Some statements suggest that to look away from the road, read a comment, look back and regain full awareness takes about 5 seconds. At 40mph the distance covered is equivalent to the length of a football pitch, blindfolded.

“Some are looking at their phone so often that, based on this 5 sec rule, they may never regain full awareness before they are looking back at their phone. This suggests situational awareness is completely diminished.”

Dr Lee Hadlington, Senior Lecturer at De Montfort University, added: “Any individual who has a smartphone has the potential to be distracted by smartphone technology – the answer to this question is perhaps a lengthy one – app notifications drive individuals into the ‘push economy’ (that’s my term) where we are constantly being sent new updates etc – most individuals will keep these on for important things like communications and social networking, so when they get a message they want to respond quickly.”

“Anyone who does more than one thing at any time runs the risk of losing focus on one or both tasks.”

Remember to remain safe of the roads and see how easily you’re distracted with our Time to Stop test.

James Ash


Content Marketing Executive at

June 1, 2017