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Driven to distraction

Gadgets and technology are now the biggest distraction for motorists. This is according to MoneySupermarket.com, who has conducted a survey to find the ten most frequently mentioned driving distractions drivers currently face.

While Radio’s have been a major presence on this list for a significant period of time, Twitter and Facebook are new additions to the list. Drivers who are caught by police utilising such gadgets while behind the wheel will not only be issued a fine of up to $100, but also face the prospect of having their car insurance premiums rise by up to 30%.

Punishments
Police take a dim view of motorists they believe to have been ‘driving without due care and attention’, issuing possible fines and even court appearances to drivers who have committed a particularly serious offence.

However, it is insurance companies, who are normally responsible for the largest financial penalties. Having a conviction for driving dangerously on a driving record can increase a driver’s premium by up to 30%.This would push up the average driver’s annual car insurance payment by $420.

However, it is young drivers who would be hit the worst by such a conviction, as this group of drivers are deemed to be the most likely to have an accident by insurers even without having a motoring conviction to their name. Being caught committing such an offence could therefore be devastating financially, making the car insurance quotes they are offered unaffordable.

MoneySupermarket.com car insurance expert Peter Harrison stated: “The penalties for this kind of behaviour are huge and can really impact on the cost of your insurance premiums. Not only are these bad driving habits, but also expensive habits if you are caught – it really isn’t worth taking the risk.”

Ten biggest distractions
Over 2,000 motorists responded to the MoneySupermarket.com survey, with the ten following distractions being named the most frequently:

1. Music- 61% of motorists surveyed mentioned the radio, CD player and even their iPod as being a distraction when behind the wheel.

2. Food and drink- 51% of drivers admitted to eating and/or drink while driving. This is obviously a dangerous act and any driver caught committing this offence would be liable to an immediate fine.

3. Phones- 23% of drivers said that they had made or received phone calls when driving. This is obviously not an offence if it is done with the aid of a hands-free kit, but would still be a distraction which would take the drivers attention off the road.

4. looking at an accident- 21% of the drivers surveyed admitted having slowed down to watch or inspect an accident involving other motorists. This obviously takes the drivers attention off the road ahead; hence risking another accident.

5. Sent a text- Although it was surprising to discover that 23% of drivers openly admitted to having made or received phone calls while driving, despite commercial campaigns to warn of the dangers of doing so, it was even more surprising to find out that 16% of drivers admitted to sending text messages while driving.

6. Seat belts- 15% of drivers admitted to not following the basic safety measure of using a seat belt. This is despite significant evidence highlighting the contribution seat belts make to reducing the chance of drivers being injured or even killed in accidents. Failing to wear a seat belt is also considered an offence by police.

7. Sleeping- Amazingly 5% of drivers admitted that they had started to fall asleep while driving at least once. This is obviously remarkably dangerous both to the motorist committing the offence and other road users. Drivers who are feeling the effects of fatigue and feel that there is a chance of them falling asleep should refrain from driving both for the sake of themselves and others.

8. Make up- 5% of drivers said that they had applied make up while driving. This obviously takes the drivers attention off the road and is considered an offence by police.

9. Facebook- With the latest range of smart phones have an increasing range of capabilities, it is now possible to access you social networking profiles while on the moves. Unfortunately some people have not established what constitutes an appropriate time to take advantage of this feature, with 2% of the drivers surveyed admitting to having updated their Facebook profiles while driving.

10. Twitter- It is also possible to use Twitter applications on smart phones, but Twitter is obviously not quite as popular as Facebook yet with just 1% of motorists admitting to tweeting while driving.

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