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  • Social Media at the Wheel — Drive Safely

    According to the research, conducted by BP, CASTROL, and RACE, with 1,100 drivers, 50% of social network uses correspond to chat applications such as WhatsApp. The distracted or inattentive driving means, according to figures from the DGT, the cause of more than 50% of accidents with victims.

    More than 13 million drivers (60% of respondents) acknowledge having used smartphones while driving. Of these, 2.7 million admit calling or receiving calls without using the hands-free function. The study has discovered that 3.9 million drivers use smartphone functions (check email, surf the Internet, applications and games, chat, etc.) while staying behind the wheel. 22% admit to using it «sometimes,» but up to 7% (260,000 drivers) agree to use it «frequently» or «Always.»

    In total, almost 7 million people put their lives at risk by using the smartphone at the wheel or calling without hands-free function. A few seconds of distraction are enough to change our lives and endanger other drivers and travelers. The profile of the smartphone user is a young driver, less than 34 years old, who travels alone in the vehicle on the way to work in the morning and who uses the Whatsapp while standing in a red traffic light.

    Less Age — More Use of Smartphone

    The driver's age is a key factor that determines the main features of phone usage while driving. Thus, while 35% of the youngest (18-34 years) use a smartphone while driving, that is almost null for those over 65, who demonstrate the most responsible attitude (67% don't use the phone absolutely for anything while driving). On the other hand, chat applications like WhatsApp are the most used behind the wheel. One in two drivers uses the smartphone for chatting.

    The second most popular use is driving assistance applications (more than 26%), followed by SMS text messages (7.5%), web page browsing (5.6%), taking photos/videos (almost 3.5%) and social networks (nearly 2%). Besides, red traffic lights (36%) and traffic jams (30%) prove to be the most sensitive moments for conversation or smartphone use. The most worrying fact is that 18% of drivers (705,000) use it on the go. Another factor that encourages the use of the smartphone is driving alone (87% of cases). It happens mostly in the city (3 out of 4 cases) while going to or from work (41%).

    Recognized as Dangerous

    Around 20,000 drivers (0.53% of respondents) have already had a mishap at the wheel because of smartphone usage, and almost 560,000 (15%) have been about to suffer. Drivers are aware of the danger of this behavior, since 9 out of 10 rates the use of such devices while driving as extremely dangerous. BP, CASTROL, and RACE have also carried out the most extensive research on driving in Europe, with more than 37,000 observations on avenue traffic lights or main streets in 16 cities.

    Thus, 3.5% of the drivers observed at that time interacted with mobile phones while standing or on the go. The time zone in which the greatest use was observed is from 8 to 11 a.m. (4.2% of cases). The second study has confirmed that the use of the mobile phone rises during the pauses in red traffic lights (5.5% of those observed). It is surprising that even when the traffic light is green, and the vehicle is moving, 2.3% of those observed continued using the smartphone. Of the 'caught' drivers, 40% spoke without hands-free, while 60% read, wrote, and interacted with the screen.


    This year, in the 'Stop Distractions' campaign, aimed to raise awareness about driving safety, BP, CASTROL, and RACE wanted to focus on the use of the smartphone behind the wheel.