USING A SMARTPHONE behind the wheel is more dangerous than drink driving, according to the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM).


Nearly a quarter of young drivers (aged 17-24) admit to using a smartphone to check emails or visit social networking sites while driving. IAM used a simulator at TRL (the Transport Research Laboratory) to investigate how this affects young drivers’ concentration.


Reaction times slowed by 38%, drivers were unable to hold position in the centre of a lane and were slow to respond to the car in front changing speed.


Having compared these findings with earlier studies, IAM and TRL concluded that the level of impairment is worse than being just over the drink-drive limit, texting or taking cannabis.


IAM chief executive, Simon Best, said: “This research shows how incredibly dangerous using smartphones while driving is, yet unbelievably it is a relatively common practice. If you’re taking your hand off the wheel to use the phone, reading the phone display and thinking about your messages, then you’re simply not concentrating on driving. It’s antisocial networking and it’s more dangerous than drink driving and it must become just as socially unacceptable.


“Young people have grown up with smartphones and using them is part of everyday life. But more work needs to be done by the government and social network providers to show young people that they are risking their lives and the lives of others if they use their smartphones while driving.”