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Driven to Distraction

Woman on her phone in the car

Technology is getting more and more advanced every day and when it comes to mobile phones, there’s almost nothing we don’t reach into our pockets for. Unfortunately, many still use mobiles behind the wheel, a major cause of driver distraction.

Whether taking a call, using GPS apps, changing a song or checking a text, your attention is taken away from the road, significantly increasing your risk of being involved in a crash.  With every phone ‘ding’ or vibration, we’re being distracted, even for just a second. It’s become a serious problem in Australia, with many calling it ‘the new drink driving’.  Recent research commissioned by the Australian Automobile Association (AAA) has investigated our use of smartphones on the road – why we use them, when we’re reaching for them and what we think about it.

The study found the majority of Aussie road users don’t switch off when they’re behind the wheel. More than 55 per cent of all road users surveyed admitted to using their mobiles to answer calls or texts in moving traffic, and more than 75 per cent said they use it while stopped at traffic lights.

The research also found the use of mobile phones was not dependent on age, with more experienced drivers reporting increased use of social media apps while driving. Younger drivers listed entertainment apps such as podcasts and music to be among their main reasons to engage with their smartphones, while older users were found to engage with social media more.

International road-safety experts engaged in the research said mobile phone use while driving – even for just two seconds – was the behaviour most likely to increase chances of a crash in younger drivers, compared to other distracted driving behaviours.

To help combat the problem, we’ve developed the Drive in the Moment initiative – an online platform providing a Risk Rater and Plan Builder encouraging you to develop tools to reduce interaction with your phone while on the road.

“We want Australians to aspire to be better, safer drivers who take less risks on our roads” said Anthony Hill, AANT CEO.

Have a plan, ditch the distractions and most importantly, drive in the moment.

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We thank our partners for the research and Drive in the Moment resources: Australian Automobile Association, New Zealand Automobile Association, Fed and QUT (CARRS-Q) who conducted the research. We thank our partner the Australian Automobile Association, who commissioned the research, and the FIA Foundation for partially funding the project.