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A four-minute film produced by Gwent police to illustrate the dangers of using mobile phones while driving has become an internet phenomenon, clocking up millions of viral views around the world. (See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3_x0CcdMRA).

The harrowing film depicts a young girl whose distraction by her mobile phone leads to a horrific crash, which kills her two passenger friends and another couple.

Whilst the film has taken the internet and social media by storm, research shows that the increasing functionality of mobile phone technology and growing addiction to social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook are driving motorists to distraction now more than ever before.

According to research by esure car insurance1, nearly one in ten (nine per cent) UK motorists use mobile internet services and social networks whilst driving – to tweet, text and update their Facebook profiles2, meaning that motorists are openly admitting to breaking the law and potentially putting their own and others’ lives at risk.

The research shows although 92 per cent of UK motorists know it is illegal to use their hand-held phone while driving, 45 per cent openly admit to breaking the law by texting and making calls while driving and, with tens of thousands of mobile phone applications widely available2, it seems that motorists are finding it increasingly difficult to resist the urge to reach for their mobile devices whilst driving.

Analysis of UK 'tweets' from Twitter by esure3 over the period of just one week showed that may people are even flaunting or encouraging the dangerous use of social media behind the wheel with one person even stating, "I can't believe how bad my spelling was in my last tweet. A testiment (sic) to not tweeting whilst driving!" The use of any mobile internet services and social networks whilst driving can have potentially fatal consequences as drivers are distracted from the road ahead.

A selection of UK driving 'Tweets' from the past week:

  1. "Am most nervous cos apparently can't tweet while driving! Who knew?!"
  2. "Hard to tweet when driving!"
  3. "Tweeting whilst driving, watch out for PC plod."
  4. "I can't believe how bad my spelling was in my last tweet. A testiment (sic) to not tweeting whilst driving!"
  5. "Good luck today Hun! Know you a bit busy n tweetin whilst driving prob illegal but u couldn't send me a HAPPY BIRTHDAY tweet ?x"
  6. "I like sharing my driving with Twitter :-) I like sharing pretty much most things with Twitter and my tweeps!"
  7. "Haha twitter and driving... u can do 2 things at the same time.. nice :) :P"
  8. "Driving to work!!!"
  9. "You tweeting and driving!! and needing a pee!! mm not good!! X"
  10. "Driving home in the rain, what pleasure, what bliss."

Findings from the research also revealed that:

Mike Pickard, Head of Risk and Underwriting at esure car insurance, said: "The research and the film from Gwent police show that there is a time and a place for using phones and social networking and it certainly isn't when driving a car. Messages being posted on Twitter from behind the wheel are a real cause for concern for the safety of other motorists and pedestrians.

With advances in technology and the rise in mobile phone applications available, motorists are being increasingly distracted whilst behind the wheel – especially as constantly updating friends and family on what we're doing is now becoming the norm. Our advice to motorists is to remove this temptation altogether by switching off all mobile technology before driving to ensure focus solely remains on the road ahead."

Regional Differences

Motorists in the North East find mobile technology the most distracting, with 56 per cent saying that incoming beeps, vibrations, flashing lights, calls or alerts are very distracting while driving. Drivers in the East of England admit to breaking the law by answering calls while driving, with almost a third (32 per cent) admitting that they have done this. However, just 22 per cent of Scottish motorists admit to answering phone calls while they are driving.

Gender Divide

Female motorists find mobile technology more distracting than male motorists when driving, with half of women (50 per cent) admitting that they find incoming beeps, alerts, vibrations etc very distracting while driving compared to 46 per cent of male drivers.

And more male motorists admit to having broken the law by answering calls while driving, with 29 per cent confessing to doing so, whereas just a quarter (25 per cent) of female drivers admit to having done so.

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esure's press contacts:

For further information please contact the esure press office at Mischief PR on 020 7100 9999 or email esure@mischiefpr.com

An ISDN line is available for radio interviews.

Notes to Editors:

  1. esure used the independent online research company FlyResearch who surveyed 1,000 of the UK's motorists, from across the country aged 18 and over, on 2nd April 2009. 'Tweet' is the name given to a status update on Twitter.
  2. http://www.apple.com/iphone/
  3. esure monitored UK driving-related 'tweets' on Twitter for a week long period (31.08.09 – 04.09.09)

About esure:

esure was launched in 2001. The company offers car, home, pet and travel insurance over the internet and by phone. esure also offers car insurance cover through the brands Halifax, Sainsbury's, Sheilas' Wheels and more recently home insurance through the Sheilas' Wheels brand.

Sponsorship:

esure has secured two of the UK's most iconic sponsorships: the ITV National and Channel 4 Weather bulletins.