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Drivers think texting at the wheel is a bigger safety threat than drink driving

Did you know that being a regular driver can make your reaction times quicker than not driving? Or that for some people, not having enough sleep has as much of a negative effect on their ability at the wheel as having too much to drink? The startling results come after a new internet game was released to give drivers the chance to test their reactions.

Do you have the reflexes of an 18 year old?
Click image to open interactive version (via

The fun game is the idea of JustPark, a website where people sell their parking spaces to drivers who need them. The company got 2000 people over 18 to take part in the test and found some interesting results. It discovered that overall, players who were qualified to drive were eight per cent quicker than those who weren’t. Regular drivers were 10 per cent faster than those who didn’t drive.

Even a good night’s sleep has an impact on your reactions. Drivers who had slept for more than eight hours before doing the test were up to 20 per cent faster than those who had spent less time asleep. It was the same discrepancy in reactions as JustPark found between a sober driver and one who was over the drink drive limit.

The test also found that drivers who had passed their test between one and two years ago were an average 27 per cent faster than those who had held a full licence for less than a year. Peter Rodger, head of driving advice for the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) said: “Reaction times are obviously important but it’s even better if you’re prepared for what’s going to happen so your behaviour is proactive rather than reactive. And it’s obvious that you shouldn’t be texting or using a mobile phone at the wheel. If you’re not looking where you’re going, you’re not going to be able to see a potential hazard.”

The IAM has just released information which shows that more drivers are worried about the effects of technology and social media on other road users than drink driving. A study by the Transport Research Laboratory last year found that drivers over the drink drive limit reacted 13 per cent slower than legal drivers. Those using a hands-free phone were 27 per cent slower. And those using a hand-held mobile were 46 per cent slower than drivers who were simply concentrating on what they were doing.

The IAM report revealed that 93 per cent of drivers thought texting was a serious threat, 92 per cent were concerned by social media. Drink and drug driving were rated a serious threat by 90 and 89 per cent of drivers.

Driver reaction time is important. When travelling at 60mph, a car is travelling at around 27m per second. But many insurers estimate it takes drivers a second and a half to spot a hazard, decide what they’re going to do and then act. In that time their car could have travelled 40m. And that’s before they even hit the brakes.

See how you can play your part in Road Safety Week starting on November 23.

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