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6.7 Distractions

It is not just what is outside a car that affects a motorist's safety; what is inside also plays a large part.

In-car sound systems and mobile phones are the two biggest distractions - with company car and young drivers the most likely to be distracted by in-car gadgets (section 5.1). SatNavs also prove distracting for two in five and heating and air-conditioning distract almost a third of motorists.

What is equally important however, to the safety of all motorists, is how acceptable certain distracting activities are seen as being. Overall the frequency and acceptability of performing certain activities is highest within the 17-24 year old age group.

Over one in ten (11%) admitted to texting while driving - although 96% said that such behaviour was unacceptable.

8% admitted to using a mobile phone without a hands-free kit of any sort, even though 94% said it was unacceptable.

5% admitted to doing their hair/make up/tie while driving, against 93% who thought the behaviour unacceptable.

7% listened to their iPod®/MP3 player using headphones, which was disapproved of by 71%.

More acceptable was eating and drinking while driving, carried out by over half of motorists, but thought unacceptable by over two in five.

26% used a mobile phone handsfree and 20% a speakerphone, but these were deemed unacceptable by 44% and 53% respectively.

The issue of texting was researched further by the RAC for this report. The extra research revealed the age group most likely to read a text or text while driving were 25-34 year olds. Almost half carried out these activities occasionally but 7% regularly sent and received text messages while at the wheel of a car.

6.8 Drink-driving

6.6 Attitudes to speed limits