61% of young SA drivers use cellphones behind the wheel

20 December 2012 - 11:04 By AFP Relaxnews
Almost half of young drivers admit to using their phone while behind the wheel.
Almost half of young drivers admit to using their phone while behind the wheel.
Image: ©Val Thoermer/shutterstock.com

In a survey conducted by IPSOS on behalf of Goodyear, it was found that about 61% of young South Africans have admitted to using their mobile phones while driving.

65% of newly qualified South African drivers have admitted to texting, emailing and using messaging services behind the wheel.

The survey polled 64,000 young and novice drivers aged between 17 and 25 across Europe and South Africa, and found that the average for young drivers using mobile phones behind the wheel was 44%.

Young and novice drivers are the most likely to be distracted while behind the wheel and the growing popularity of smartphones could heighten that risk.

Despite the fact that it is illegal in most countries, 44% speak on the phone without using hands-free technology while driving. Swedes and Russians are the worst offenders at 70% with the South Africans in third place (61%) and Turkish drivers in fourth (60%). Drivers in the UK (15%), Spain (26%) and the Netherlands (27%) are the least likely to use their phones.

Texting, sending emails and using messaging services -- each considered more dangerous than speaking on the phone -- are also popular among newly qualified drivers, with 65% of South African, 56% of Turkish, and 55% of Swedish respondents claiming to have done so while behind the wheel.

Conversely, at only 14% of respondents, UK drivers were the least likely to do so.

Of the results, Dr. Alex W Stedmon, a researcher in Human Factors at Sheffield Hallam University, said: "The distraction caused by carrying out multiple tasks while driving is known by experts as ‘inattention blindness.' Typically what happens is that a driver's cognitive abilities are compromised by the amount of processing required to conduct multiple tasks. This can occur to such an extent that they then fail to observe events around them or react in normal time. The danger with this is that we are often totally unaware of the impact of attempting multiple tasks until we have a clear lapse of concentration."