Almost 100 people were killed as a result.
More than 3,000 accidents occurred and nearly 100 people were killed last year because drivers were distracted, according to new research.
Analysis of figures from the Department for Transport (DfT) by telematics-based insurance firm InsureTheBox found that drivers who had been distracted from the task at hand were involved in 3,070 accidents during 2018. Sadly, those crashes led to a total of 93 deaths.
According to the organisation, 92 serious accidents involved mobile phone use as a contributing factor, with 25 fatal accidents involving mobile phone use. However, InsureTheBox said drivers also need to be aware of other in-car systems such as satellite navigation and even the radio. Passengers and pets were also earmarked as potential distractions.
The data comes after research published this month showed more than 13,000 drivers a year are convicted of using a handheld phone while driving, while a study by garage chain Kwik Fit found that mobile phone use behind the wheel is still one of the UK’s top motoring concerns.
The news also follows an announcement a few weeks ago that the government was planning to close a ‘loophole’ in mobile phone rules. At present, the drivers are banned from using a hand-held mobile phone to make or receive phone calls or text messages, but because the rules only outlaw “interactive communication”, lawyers have successfully argued that people caught filming or taking photos while driving cannot be punished.
However, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed a review into tightening up the existing law will be “urgently” brought forward, proposing to update the rules so any driver caught texting, taking photos, browsing the internet or scrolling through a playlist while behind the wheel can be prosecuted.
“These figures show 93 deaths and well over 600 serious accidents could have been prevented had the driver not been distracted,” said Gary Stewart, InsureTheBox’s service manager. “Young and newly qualified drivers who have the least experience on the roads are likely to be more vulnerable to dealing with in car distractions. Plus, today’s constant pressure to be constantly connected mean young drivers may well be tempted to pick up the phone to take a call, answer a text or respond to a social media notification.
"There are so many potential demands on our attention when we are behind the wheel, but by employing strategies to reduce these distractions is fundamental to staying focused, and keeping drivers and other road users safe on the roads.”