10pct Brit drivers chat over the Internet while behind the wheel

April 9th, 2009 - 5:12 pm ICT by ANI  

Facebook Melbourne, Apr 9 (ANI): A new British study has revealed that some people log on to social networking sites Twitter or Facebook and chat over the Internet while they are driving.

In a survey of 1,000 people conducted by British insurance company Esure, one in 10 admitted to “tweeting” or updating their Facebook profile while behind the wheel.

The company said that the increasing functionality of mobile phones and handheld personal digital assistants (PDAs) had added to the list of potentially fatal distractions for drivers.

Esure has found an average of 52 Twitter posts per day made by people who claimed to be driving

“Driving with my knees and peeling an orange…Probably not the safest thing to be doing,” Drive.com.au quoted one of the postings as stating.

While one claimed to be driving a school bus, another said: “Intoxicated driving. Let’s hope this works out.”

The NSW head of police traffic command, Chief Superintendent John Hartley, said that the police were aware of some drivers using their Blackberries at the wheel.

“The same rule applies as it does with using mobile phones. The bottom line is it’s an offence (to use a PDA) while driving a car because you’re not concentrating on the road,” he said.

He said that the increasing amount of distractions for drivers was a concern for police.

“I think this really is a new era of driving with this kind of equipment. There are too many distractions. That is why we have new laws stopping red P-platers from talking on any phone, hands-free or not. It’s just too dangerous,” he stated.

The British research found that almost half the number of motorists surveyed admitted that they had broken the law by making phone calls and texting while driving.

More than a third said that they found it impossible to ignore a mobile alert while driving, while one in five admitted to rummaging through a handbag, glovebox or pocket to find a mobile phone while driving.

Only one in five said that they switched their mobile phones off while driving.

An Australian-based study published in the British Medical Journal in 2005 found that using a hand-held phone more than quadrupled the risk of an accident, and that using a hands-free phone kit was almost as dangerous.

That study prompted some big Australian companies to ban their employees from using any sort of phone - hand-held or hands-free - while in the company car.

But at the same time, Bluetooth connectivity and iPod integration are becoming must-have marketing tools for carmakers eager to attract tech-savvy younger customers. (ANI)

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