The top 10 most distracting driving habits revealed

Sat-navs, mobile phones and chatty friends were all used to distract drivers

Hey, over here!

It’s easy to get distracted these days. You’ll be reading the start of a news article and before you know it, your attention drifts away onto something else.

We’ll try our very best to keep your attention for the next few hundred words or so, because some new research on distractions behind the wheel is well worth reading about…

The distraction study

IAM RoadSmart teamed up with Auto Express to discover which driving distractions are the most dangerous.

The study involved Joe Finnerty, Consumer Editor at Auto Express, and a Formula 3 driver using a racing simulator while different distractions were, well… distracting them.

While the distractions took place, both drivers set lap times and had to try and brake at a certain point.

The most dangerous distractions

Different distractions, unsurprisingly, were seen to have different levels of impact. The worst seemed to be having to enter a postcode into a sat-nav while driving.

Tim Shallcross, IAM RoadSmart’s Head of Technical Policy, said: “There was still a significant speed reduction for Joe when using a sat-nav, and even the ultra-focused Formula 3 driver 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.”

Sending a text message behind the wheel was a very close second in the dangerous distractions list, with Tim saying “Joe would have been a menace to other road users” while using his mobile.

The danger of a chatty passenger

Lower down the list was talking to a passenger. However, it still saw an impact on the driving quality of the two test subjects.

Tim explained: “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.”

So, it seems that different distractions have different levels of impact on our driving. But, the advice is still to avoid distractions wherever possible. If you can, stop the car before updating the sat-nav. And never use your mobile behind the wheel.

Oh, and maybe don’t offer that annoyingly chatty friend a lift next time.

We partnered with etiquette expert William Hanson to help drivers get good manners back on the map. Check it out!

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