Recent survey findings from ingenie, a car insurance brand for young drivers, have revealed that 58% of 17-25 year old drivers agree that smartphone apps are causing young people to be more distracted at the wheel.

This is disturbing. Studies have shown that using a phone while driving is as dangerous as drinking and driving. Anyone who has followed a distracted driver weaving and changing speed while talking on a cell phone has seen why.

ingenie  commissioned the survey of 1,000 young drivers, conducted by One Poll, which has uncovered the extent of how smartphones and social media are distracting 17-25 year olds when behind the wheel. Data like this is part of why average car insurance rates by age and gender can vary so much.

The latest ingenie survey revealed:

  • Over 40% admitted to answering their phones while driving without a hands-free set
  • 44% said they had sent a text message, and 62% said they had read a message while they were driving
  • 1 in 6 male drivers under 25 has crashed due to mobile phone usage at the wheel
  • One third of under 25s who use Facebook on their phone admitted to using it whilst driving
  • 18% of under 25s who have Draw Something on their phone have played the game whilst driving – 17% for Angry Birds
  • Hands-free kits encourage 53% more young drivers to make longer calls at the wheel (longer than 5 minutes)

The results collected from the survey suggest that the increasing range of apps and functionality available on mobile devices is contributing to young driver distraction – even mobile games, which take a high level of concentration are taking young people’s attention away from the roads.

On the growing range of dangerous distractions created by smartphones, ingenie founder and CEO Richard King said, “We’re in the middle of a perfect storm, where the rapid growth of social media and mobile is creating a new breed of in-car distraction.

“We’re increasingly using smartphones to occupy ourselves during down time, but driving is an active pursuit and it really does need our full attention. As well as not texting or making calls, we should all pledge not to tweet, update our status or be tempted by anything else our phone has to offer whilst driving.”

What can be done about this other than increasing awareness of the dangers? We suspect stiffer laws against using a phone while driving might help, but are unlikely to solve the problem as smartphones become like an extension of the hand for younger users.

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