Smartphones are dumbing down driving


Yet more evidence has been gathered suggesting that smartphone use while driving is a very big and very dangerous problem.

Research by Confused.com has shown that almost 40 percent admit to texting behind the wheel, while around half say they must have their phone in sight at all times while driving.
The same number reckon they get agitated when they receive calls or texts while driving, and almost one third admit to logging into Facebook.

A phenomenon Confused.com calls the 'twitch factor' (which would be a very different sort of talent contest to the popular ITV one) means that a fifth of motorists cant even go 15 minutes without checking their phones.

According to Government statistics, driver reaction times are reduced by half when using a mobile phone, and the likelihood of an accident increases four-fold. Driving with a handset has been shown to reduce reaction times more than having alcohol in the system.

Despite the introduction of penalty points for driving while using a handset, it's still a major issue, with road safety charity Brake recently releasing its own research on the matter.

More than half of the drivers surveyed here support a harsher penalty for the offence (currently the maximum is three points and a £60 fine), yet a greater number (60%) still admit to answering their phones while behind the wheel.

Kath Hartley, Senior Development Officer at Brake, said: "People are increasingly reliant on smartphones, but there is never an excuse to use one while driving. This kind of irresponsible behaviour is not only illegal, but it causes road deaths and serious injuries that devastate families and communities.

"It is vital that drivers commit to never using any kind of mobile phone whilst driving – no call, text or tweet is worth jeopardising someone's life over."

So what's the answer?

Well, the best one would be for drivers to practice what they preach and simply stop using their phones. Confused, however, has another solution...a smartphone application. Sigh.

Called DriveSafe.ly, it speaks out texts, emails, Facebook and Twitter messages and "lets you respond by voice allowing drivers to concentrate on the road and stop texting while driving," according to the blurb.

This, apparently, "encourage[s] drivers to stop using their phones while on the road." Yes, really.

A similar app is Tweet Speaker, which does the same thing but limited to Twitter, "allow[ing] users to listen to news, sports, humour, and the musings of interesting people on Twitter without having to take their hands off the wheel or eyes off the road."

So, the direct line to the Ashton and Demi saga needn't be hindered by having to pop out to the Drive-Thru. Finally.
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