48% admitted to using their phone at the wheel to make or receive calls while in stationary traffic
31% admitted to using their phone to make or receive calls while driving
14% said they have used their smartphones to take photos or videa while driving
20% think it is acceptable to check social media while sitting in traffic
Motorists are particularly concerned about other drivers using handheld mobile phones while in charge of their vehicles – and these levels of concern have risen dramatically since the 2015 Report on Motoring was published. Last year just over a third (34%) said that use of a handheld phone for talking, texting or internet access was one of their top four concerns. In 2016, the figure has risen to 41%.
This year 13% of those questioned said phone use by others was their number-one concern, up from 10% in 2015, and second only to the condition and maintenance of local roads as this year’s most common chief concern (cited by 14% of motorists).
It is difficult to say to what extent the distractions from handheld mobile phone use cause accidents, or whether this problem has become more acute, but it is likely that official statistics understate the problem.
Motorists' attitudes to handheld mobile phone use while driving
Despite a high level of concern, a significant minority of motorists do admit to using handheld phones to make or receive calls while driving. Almost a third (31%) have done so at least once in the past 12 months: 15% say they rarely do so, 10% say they use their phones in this way only sometimes, while 6% admit using handheld phones at the wheel most or all of the time.
Motorists are much more likely to use their handheld phones while sitting in stationary traffic with their engines on, despite the fact that this is also against the law.
Almost half of drivers (49%) have done so in the past year, while 46% admit to having checked texts, emails or social media while stationary.
The idea that it is acceptable to use a phone while stuck in traffic or queuing at a set of lights, for example, seems to be gaining currency. A fifth of motorists (20%) say they agree with the statement ‘It is safe to text or check social media on your phone when stationary’, up from 17% in 2015.
And equally worryingly, taking phone calls on a handheld phone while driving is unacceptable to fewer motorists this year; only 78% thought taking a quick call was unacceptable, down from 83% 12 months ago.
As for the reasons given for using a handheld phone while driving, 23% say ‘It was an emergency’, while 21% did so to obtain information needed for their journeys; 20% made a call because ‘It could have been an emergency’.
46% of people admit to having checked texts, emails or social media while stationary
78% of motorists think taking quick pjone calls on a handheld phone while driving is unacceptable