Smart phones, stupid drivers - rubber necking takes ghoulish new twist

Updated: 

Motorists are increasingly breaking the law to use their smartphones.

Drivers are tweeting, "Facebook-ing", texting and, shockingly, taking photos while at the wheel more often than they ever have done.

Motoring organisation the AA has found that 42 per cent of motorists admit to using a smartphone while driving - and 60 per cent of those drivers said that using one had distracted them.

The AA has declared this as "worrying" as the figures imply the remaining 40 per cent deem using a smartphone as not distracting.

The results come from a poll carried out by the AA which saw nearly 21,000 drivers surveyed - but the organisation also discovered a more morbid habit.

Drivers are now using their smartphones to take pictures and videos of major accidents and incidents on motorways, despite the fact they are behind the wheel.

The AA is calling such motorists "digital rubber neckers" and is branding them as "morbid voyeurs".

"Digital rubber neckers who photograph crashes really are morbid voyeurs who should be concentrating on the road not the victims of crashes," declared AA president, Edmund King. "It beggars belief that these macabre motorists should put their lives and others at risk through their lust for twisted metal.

"We would like to see the police target more mobile phone abusers so that the message gets out that it is not worth hanging on the telephone while driving. However, we have seen a 29 per cent reduction in traffic police in the last decade so their resources are stretched."

It's not just the AA who are disgusted by such actions, though. Speaking exclusively to Autoblog, the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) says drivers who use smartphones are more dangerous than drunk drivers.

"Driving and using smartphones for social networking is a new menace on our roads,' said IAM chief executive Simon Best. "Our research shows that it slows reaction times by 37 per cent. That's more dangerous than drink driving at the legal limit, or being high on cannabis behind the wheel.

"More work needs to be done by the government, mobile phone companies and social network providers to show drivers that they are risking their lives and the lives of others if they use their phones behind the wheel."