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Issue Date:- 8 September 2008

Driven to Distraction – Survey Supports New Careless Driving Laws

WITH new laws on careless driving, survey highlights the distractions that are rife on Britain’s roads - from eating Chinese meals to using iPods and email:-

* Over 1 in 7 drivers have asked the passenger to hold the steering wheel for them while they do something else

* Nearly 90% admit to holding the steering wheel with their knees to allow them to juggle hot coffee, e-mails, takeaway food and more

* 25% of respondents know someone who has had an accident because of careless driving

* Nearly 50% check e-mails on their Blackberry while driving, with a 25% writing documents

* 1 in 6 have spilt a hot drink while driving

The new laws on careless driving have been welcomed by car hire comparator, following its survey of 800 drivers, which highlights the use of everything from mobile phones to make up and even Chinese food by UK drivers.

The survey found that over 1 in 7 drivers have asked the passenger to hold the steering wheel to enable them to do anything from tying a shoelace to sending an e-mail or checking a map, underlining the potential danger of driving distractions.

Gareth Robinson, Managing Director of, said:- “The survey findings surprised us, because they showed just how common it is for people to be doing other things while they are driving.  The variety of activities that take place behind the wheel is vast, but our main concern was for road safety.  The introduction of the new laws are very welcome, and this survey backs up the decision to toughen up on careless drivers whose actions can cause tragic consequences.”

The survey found that key distractions included changing music on the radio, with 25% saying they often do this; checking directions on a map or sat nav; eating while driving; and over 50% still answer their mobile phone.   Nearly 90% of respondents said they have used their knees to steer the car to help keep them on the road while their hands are occupied elsewhere, while 22% use their elbows, and a small percentage even admitted to using their chin.

The issue of driving distractions is causing a growing number of accidents, with the research being told of incidents ranging from bumping the car in front to driving into a hedge and even rolling the car.  Nearly 1 in 5 respondents said they knew someone who has had an accident because of distractions behind the wheel.  Adding to the danger on the road, nearly 1 in 6 have, or know someone who has, spilt a hot drink on themselves while driving, while 1 in 10 say they have taken part in a sexual act while driving.  Work is also taken on the road with nearly 50% checking emails on their Blackberry while driving, a quarter writing or checking documents, and others working on spreadsheets to ensure deadlines are met.

Britain’s most boring roads named and shamed

THE 200 mile stretch of motorway known as the M1 has been named the most boring road in Britain in a survey of company car drivers by Lex, the vehicle leasing company.  The M1, Britain’s first full length motorway, which carries around 130,000 motorists every day and connects the north to the south, received almost a 3rd of the votes (28%) in the poll.

The road is 1 of 10 highlighted as the most boring in Britain in the Lex research, which features 6 of Britain’s most used motorways including the M4, M5 and Britain’s longest road, the M6.  Others to make the list included the M40, A1, A38 and A14.

So what makes a road boring? Heavy traffic was the main reason for the nominations.  In addition, the length of the road and frequency of driving it also contributed to the boredom. 

Official statistics show that as many as 60% of accidents on motorways are caused by sleeping or drowsiness.  With 42% of motorists polled saying they lose their concentration when driving on boring roads, for example thinking about work, personal issues or constantly fiddling with the radio, the risks are high.  Worryingly, 25% of drivers admit to driving faster than normal when bored.

John Walden, managing director at Lex said:- “With congestion being a common occurrence on the majority of the UK’s major routes, it’s no surprise that our research showed drivers are bored by being stuck in traffic.  Lex, as a business, and the company drivers we represent would certainly welcome and listen to Government initiatives that would improve the driving experience, ease traffic build up and get Britain continuously moving.”

According to, which monitors motorways and A roads, almost 19,177 accidents occurred on the 450 principal routes in 2007.  The road with the highest number of accidents was the M4 with 707 incidents haven taken place last year.  The next highest figure was for the A38, which runs from Cornwall to the Midlands, which registered 621 incidents.

Less than 29% of the money raised from motor taxation is spent on road building and maintenance.  However, the government is seeking to make improvements to some of the UK’s most boring and dangerous roads.  On the M1 at junction 19 with the M6 and A14 for example, the Highways Agency is proposing changes to the junction layout to relieve congestion, make the roads safer and reduce journey times.

The top 10 in full includes:-

1.  M1
2.  M6
3.  A14
4.  A1
5.  M40
6.  M4
7.  M5
8.  A38
9.  A40
10.  M10

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