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Distraction is one of the main causes of car accidents in the UK

14 November 2022 
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  • 16% of the nation’s drivers admit illegally using their phone whilst driving and a third (30%) admit to having done this at a traffic light or other stops

  • Distraction is a leading cause of accidents, with a fifth (19%) happening as the driver wasn’t paying attention – from reaching in their bag through to not being able to see through the windscreen

  • Leeds drivers (53%), Bristolians (48%) and the Welsh (48%) are the most distracted at the wheel, blaming this on accidents they’ve had 

  • Vitality car insurance is committed to good driving and rewards Brits for being safer and greener on the roads

As we enter National Road Safety Week, Vitality car insurance has revealed that Brits aren’t paying attention on the roads, with 6.6million* admitting to having used their phone when driving; a figure which increases to 30% when at a traffic light or other stops, despite both being illegal. 

Whilst 88% claim they are a safe driver, a fifth (19%) admit that being distracted and not paying attention was the cause of their most recent car accident or incident. In addition to using their phone, one in six admit to having smoked or vaped while driving. More than one in seven, however, have decided to drive without being able to see fully through the windscreen or have reached into a bag to look for something whilst on the move in the car. 

Whether its answering the phone or checking social channels, 35 – 54-year-olds are the worst offenders, with almost half (49%) admitting to having used their phone whilst driving. But when it comes to being distracted, age isn’t always the main factor. Women cite distraction as being the main cause of an accident when they were at fault (23%) in comparison to 16% of men

Geographically, those from Leeds get the most distracted at the wheel, with over half (53%) citing this as the main cause of their most recent accident where they were to blame, followed by Bristolians (48%) and those from Wales (48%). However, those from Sheffield are at the highest risk of both accidents and prosecution by using their phones while driving, with almost a third (32%) admitting to having used one at the wheel

When it comes to what the nation admits doing whilst driving – the top 10 ‘distractions’ include: 

  • Eating or drinking something (45%)
  •  Changing locations on their GPS (20%) 
  •  Picking up something that fell on the floor (19%) 
  •  Turning their head around to talk to a passenger (17%) 
  •  Smoking or vaping (16%) 
  •  Using their phone (16%)
  •  Looking in a bag for something (15%) 
  •  Driving whilst not being able to see properly through the windscreen (15%) 
  •  Trying to restrain a child (5%) 
  • Trying to restrain a pet (5%)

Andrew Webb, Managing Director of Vitality car insurance, commented: “There are many things that can distract us behind the wheel, which is one of the biggest causes of accidents on the roads. Using your phone can affect your concentration and means you won’t have both hands readily available should you need to make an emergency manoeuvre, making your chances of having an accident much more likely.

At Vitality, we know that by taking steps to drive safer we could prevent an accident. It’s why we’re so committed to making roads safer through combining the latest technology - which gives people powerful insights into how they are driving - with rewards such as monthly cashback to encourage them to drive well with our car insurance. This can unlock significant value for customers while also contributing to better roads for all.

Launched in June 2021, Vitality car insurance has a commitment to good driving – which is based around five key driving behaviours: Acceleration, Braking, Cornering, Distraction and Speed (the ABCDS of good driving) - offering rewards to its customers to help control their car insurance costs.

Vitality car is underwritten and administered by Covéa Insurance. For more information visit Vitality


Notes to editors

Research was conducted by Opinium among 2,000 British drivers between the 10th – 17th October 2022. 

*Calculated as 16% of 41,340,364 national drivers.

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