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Young drivers recklessly video calling while driving

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New research has revealed that nearly one-in-five of drivers aged 17-24 admit to taking part in video calls while behind the wheel.

The rise in popularity of the likes of FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Snapchat for video calls “is posing a new and present danger on the UK’s roads”, claims the RAC.

Younger drivers are more than twice as likely to say they make or receive video calls while driving – on average 8% of all UK drivers say they do this, with the figure rising to 13% among those aged 25 to 44.

Equally worrying is the finding that just under one-in-10 drivers aged 17 to 24 (9%) say they play games on their phones while driving, making them three-times more likely to do this compared to the average UK driver.

Other drivers’ use of handheld phones is the second biggest overall motoring-related concern identified in the 2020 RAC Report on Motoring research, after the state of local roads. A third of all UK drivers surveyed (32%) say the issue concerns them and strikingly nearly eight-in-10 (79%) now want to see camera technology introduced to catch drivers acting illegally.

Alarmingly, 29% of drivers of all ages in 2020 say they make and receive calls on handheld phones while driving, that’s 5% more than last year and the highest proportion since 2016.

What drivers across the UK are admitting to doing

Type of handheld mobile phone use while driving2020 and 2019 figure (all drivers)2020 and 2019 figure (drivers aged 17-24)
Make and receive calls29%, up from 23%42%, down from 51%
Send texts, social media posts or use the internet8%, down from 14%15%, down from 37%
Check texts, social media posts or app notifications14%, down from 17%22%, down from 35%
Take photos or record video6%, down from 13%14%, down from 35%
Make or receive video calls8%18%
Play a game on a mobile phone3%9%
Data: 2020 RAC Report on Motoring

“Our figures highlight what many drivers already know – that the problem of illegal phone use at the wheel has far from disappeared,” said RAC road safety spokesperson Simon Williams.

“While there’s been a reduction in some elements of this dangerous activity, more people say they are making and taking calls now than at any point since 2016, shortly before tougher penalties were introduced.”

Inspector Frazer Davey of the Avon and Somerset Police Roads Policing unit added: “The importance of concentrating on your driving cannot be overstated. Using a mobile phone while in charge of a car puts you and everyone else at risk.

“The consequences of allowing yourself to be distracted while you are driving can be catastrophic. It’s simply not worth it.”

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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