Expert: Blame parents for young drivers using phones at the wheel
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Parents are to blame for young drivers who risk lives by using their mobile phones at the wheel, the former UK Driving Standards Agency chief examiner has said.
Driving instructors teach learner drivers to put their phones away while driving, but many ignore the rules when they start driving meaning a change of attitude and family phone culture is needed, Trevor Wedge said.
Learners abide by the rules until their test, but quickly fall into bad habits normalised by other drivers, especially parents.
He added that the problem was only to become worse as smartphone-integrated entertainment system become more widespread.
Mr Wedge, who now runs consultancy firm International Solutions for Safer Driving, said: ‘If you’re in your car and you see your mum and dad using their phones while driving then you’re much more likely to do that yourself.
‘We need to actually address the motivational issues, and the context and the personal make-up and even the culture within their family all influence the way they behave once you get out on the road.
‘It comes down to in training trying to explain risks and explain responsibilities as a driver about what the consequences could be. And you’ve got plenty of those around with youngsters languishing in jail because they’ve been texting and been involved in a serious collision.
‘I’m very concerned with the emerging technology allowing full integration of a smart phone with the car entertainment system.
‘I wonder how long it will be before we have to asking people to programme their music centre during their driver training, or what to do when a text message flashes up whilst you’re driving.’
Mr Wedge made his comments came after a poll revealed that one in three drivers do not think the changes to the driving test, which come in in December this year, do enough to improve road safety.
The new changes replace the three-point turn with more bay-parking, the independent driving element of the test has been doubled to 20 minutes, and learners will have to follow a sat nav.
But the poll of 2,000 adults carried out by One Poll, on behalf of Confused.com, showed that 73 per cent think motorway driving should be introduced into the driving test, and 66 per cent think night driving should be tested.
Eight in ten believe driving etiquette should be taught in order to eliminate middle lane hogging and tailgating.
But Mr Wedge sees distractions as a growing problems as technology vies for drivers’ attention.
‘I think driver distraction is becoming a very big thing. Mobile phones are a big distraction, even for my generation.
‘How these youngsters who have mobile phones attached to their bodies from a very early age cope when they get behind the wheel, and the answer is many of them continue to use them.’
According to the Transport Research Laboratory, reaction times are twice as long for drivers who are texting compared with those who have been drinking.
An RAC survey found that one in four motorists admits checking texts, emails and social media while driving.
Lorry driver Kroker was jailed for ten years in October 2016 after killing a woman and three children in a crash on the A34 in Berkshire while distracted by his phone.