Hands on the wheel, eyes on the … phone

Hands on the wheel, eyes on the … phone

Goodyear has found that young South African drivers are far more likely to be distracted by phone calls and the Internet while behind the wheel than their European counterparts. This is one of many distressing statistics that emerged in the company’s third annual Road Safety Survey.

As part of its commitment to understand and address driver safety, Goodyear probed the road behaviour of 6 400 drivers under the age of 25. The survey covered 16 markets; South Africa and 15 European countries, and provided some interesting insights into the online generation’s driving habits.

The poll revealed how, despite the fact that it’s illegal in most countries, youngsters phone, text and surf the web while they’re driving, with South Africans emerging among the top users of phones without headsets – 61 percent versus the global 44 percent. Young drivers in the United Kingdom, Spain ant the Netherlands ranked 15, 26 and 27 percent respectively – making them the least likely offenders.

“Today’s young drivers have too many distractions at their fingertips,” says Lize Hayward, Goodyear South Africa Group brand communications manager. She adds that the study was specifically designed to explore a wide range of factors, from driver training through to general concerns among young drivers.

However, while new technology undoubtedly provides a particular danger, Goodyear’s survey also revealed that more traditional multi-tasking activities add to young drivers’ distractions. Here too South Africa ranked at the shameful top, with some of the most common behaviours including; drinking (75 percent versus global average of 58 percent), eating (71 percent versus 45 percent) and even kissing – at 33 percent.

“Today’s world clearly offers far too many distractions for young drivers that significantly inhibit their ability to concentrate at the wheel,” says Hayward. “Driving requires 100 percent of our concentration and attention and youngsters need to put phones and other distractions aside when they get behind the wheel.”

She adds that Goodyear has recognised the growing problem of distracted driving. “We are working with the European Driving Schools Association in Europe and the Volkswagen Driving Academy in South Africa.”

The company is also working with the Goodyear 4×4 Academy in the Western Cape. “This is to provide young people with more training on driving safely and responsibly, as well as ensuring optimal knowledge and maintenance of their cars and tyres.”

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