Sat-navs, texting and over-chatty passengers - the deadliest distractions at the wheel
safety charity IAM RoadSmart and Auto
Express, the UK’s biggest-selling car magazine, teamed up to find out which
are the deadliest behind-the-wheel distractions with programming a satellite
navigation device found to be the worst.
Auto Express consumer editor Joe Finnerty was put
to the test alongside British Formula 3 hopeful Jamie Chadwick in a
professional racing simulator at Base Performance Simulators in Banbury.
were both assessed to see how they coped with the most common distracting tasks
on UK roads, while completing timed laps and braking at a specific point. On
hand was IAM RoadSmart’s head of technical policy, Tim Shallcross, to monitor
results proved shocking, with a massive difference in performance between
distractions. Entering a postcode into a sat-nav app proved to be the worst,
followed by sending a text message. Other tasks carried out included eating,
drinking, making a phone call and talking to a passenger.
said: “There was still a significant speed reduction for Joe when using a
sat-nav, and even the ultra-focused Jamie completely missed the stop line. The
moral? Those warning screens about not entering details on the move are there
for a reason - don’t ignore them.”
texting Mr Shallcross said: “Joe would have been a menace to other road users;
the car was more or less out of control. Jamie’s caution reduced the
distraction in critical zones, but a sudden incident would have left her unable
to take avoiding action.”
least distracting task for lap time was talking to a passenger, but it still
ranked very poorly for the braking test.
Shallcross said: “It was the least distracting of all in terms of lap times,
but interestingly, both drivers failed to brake accurately at the target line.
Their ability to drive normally confirms the difference between the extra
distraction of a phone conversation and the natural act of talking to a
passenger, but still shows that any distraction reduces attention, and in an
emergency, it might be critical.”
Steve Fowler, Auto Express
editor-in-chief, said: “These results highlight just how important it is that
drivers give their full attention to the road ahead. We’ve seen the staggering
numbers of people who are still using phones at the wheel and these tests show
how dangerous they can be - whether it’s texting, calling or programming the
sat-nav. More work needs to be done to target those who still think it’s
acceptable to use a phone while driving.”