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Most young drivers illegally using mobiles

More than half of young drivers have used their phone behind the wheel – with many sending texts or checking social media while on the move.

A study of 1,000 UK motorists aged 17-24, found 54 per cent admitted they kept an eye on their mobile when driving their car.

Almost four in 10 (38 per cent) have sent a text message on the road and 27 per cent have made a call without using hands-free.

Worryingly, the study commissioned by Ford’s Driving Skills for Life sceheme, found seven per cent have scrolled through their social media profiles while almost one in twenty have even posted on their accounts while driving.

However, 46 per cent of young drivers blamed their parents for their bad habits behind the wheel, after years of watching them drive.

And 39 per cent think their driving skills are worsening due to the increase of vehicle technologies like park assist and cruise control.

More than six in 10 (61 per cent) also think this is leading to slower reaction times in drivers.

It also emerged that in a bid to try and boost their driving skills, 34 per cent have watched a YouTube or online video tutorial on how to drive, while 26 per cent have turned to video games – with 46 per cent of those noticing an improvement.

Ford Driving Skills for Life
Ford’s Driving Skills for Life scheme

The findings emerged after Ford’s Driving Skills for Life programme – practical driver training which has seen 45,000 young drivers across 16 European countries take part since it began in 2013 – has been put on hold for 2020.

As a result, six videos, covering driving skills from correct seat positioning and safe braking to hazard recognition and speed management are being hosted on the Ford of Europe YouTube channel.

Ford’s esports team, Team Fordzilla, has created the videos, which see the expert virtual racers using realistic mechanics of computer games to show driving scenarios with and without real-life skills applied, such as speed management and hazard awareness.

Debbie Chennells from Ford said: “Traffic accidents are one of the top causes of death for people aged between 18-24 in Europe with more than 38,000 killed each year – 67 per cent of which are drivers.

“With very little experience behind the wheel, it’s worrying to see so many young drivers are using their mobile phones while driving and putting themselves and others at risk.

“Even those with years of experience and the best driving skills would find their concentration reduced behind the wheel while using their phone.

“The visuals and driving dynamics in computer games are incredibly realistic and make for a remarkably effective way to safely show young drivers the often-terrible consequences of driving errors.

“You might have infinite lives in computer games but in real life you get just one.”

The study also found almost half of those polled check their phone because they notice a notification pop up, while another 50 per cent will answer it if they receive a call.

But one in 20 admitted it’s due to a fear of being offline, while eight per cent worry about work emails coming in.

Just over one in twenty even claimed to have checked their phone while doing speeds of more than 70mph.

It also emerged seven per cent of young drivers have been caught by police when using their phone while driving.

And more than one in five have had an accident or near-miss because they were looking at their mobile.

Despite the findings, 84 per cent think using a mobile phone behind the wheel is a serious offence and should have a severe punishment.

Worryingly, 67 per cent of those polled, via OnePoll, feel their concentration isn’t as focused if they are on their phone while driving – even when using hands-free.

About Gareth Herincx

Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who's worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

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