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Mobile devices more of a distraction than a screaming child

A recent study has exposed the distraction and danger to drivers of just having a mobile phone in the car, with a fifth of participants in a simulator situation moving their eyes from the road for more than seven seconds after simply hearing their phone ring.

The simulator study commissioned by esure car insurance reveals that motorists take 23% longer to respond to an unexpected occurrence on the road when trying to send a text message while driving – which equates to the vehicle moving 8.5metres ‘blind’ while driving at 70mph. This lag in reaction times proved larger than the increased reaction times of distractions of arguing children in the backseat (13%) or feeling stressed (4%).

The simulator study further revealed that posting a short status update on, for example facebook - an everyday temptation to those with a smartphone - had various effects in driver performance mainly causing motorists to move across their lane to a greater extent (up to one metre more than in controlled conditions), being less consistent in following distance and driving closer to the vehicle ahead.

These decreases in motoring performance occurred despite drivers slowing down – proving that a reduction in speed does not offset the true dangers of being on a smartphone and the dangers of updating a social networking status.

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