Half of the 1,010 fatal accidents on the roads of Spain in 2012 had been caused by the driver being distracted, according to a report by the RACE Automobile Association.

According to a survey of 4,473 drivers carried out by RACE, the people questioned believed that the most common distractions to drivers are listening to the radio or music, of which 85.3% thought was a principle problem, talking to passengers was a concern for 77.7% of those questioned, whereas 56% said that they consider that road users thinking or worrying about personal matters would be the third biggest cause.

The drivers who completed the survey didn´t seem to recognise that they themselves were distracted by other matters like mobile phones, smoking or “rubber necking” at accidents, but when the drivers were asked about the causes of distractions to other road users, 87.1% thought that smoking was a distraction for everybody else, they think that 85.3% watch accidents and 85.2% of other road users are constantly on the phone.

One in 10 respondents acknowledge having been penalized for a distraction offence, and 3 in 10 admitted that they know the penalty for using a mobile phone, even “hands-free”, using headphones, or similar devices, but in reality, of that 30%, only 6 out of 10 answered correctly as to what the sanction is.

When asked about the distractions that are considered most dangerous, in first place are those related to the manipulation of a mobile phone, such as texting, chatting through applications like Whatsapp and similar, to which 99.2% and 99.3% respectively of respondents acknowledged were dangerous.

Meanwhile, 94.4% considered it “risky behaviour” to talk on the phone without using hands-free, while 45.1% of participants considered it a risk if a hands-free device were used. Retreating items from the glove box also featured high on the list with 91.7% considering this to be an issue.

To confuse matters even more though, the survey reveals that drivers contradict themselves in relation to their considerations and actions, with just 14.5% of them actually admitting that they were distracted by listening to music, despite 85.3% considering it to be the number one cause, and just 26% say that they were distracted by their passengers, although they considered it the number two cause overall at 77.7%.

Fatigue, alcohol or consuming a heavy meal, as well as the concentration of signals, the intensity of traffic or the weather, were all factors considered a risk, but not quite as high as the internal distraction factors.

In order to avoid distractions, RACE recommends caution with carrying children and being accompanied, as three out of four drivers in this situation become distracted by watching the child in the on the back seat . They also recommend not rushing, avoiding stress and personal concerns before driving, always keeping your hands on the wheel, forget the phone and never looking away from the road and traffic.

RACE, in collaboration with BP and Castrol have launched the campaign “Stop distractions” with the aim of raising awareness about the importance of avoiding distractions while driving, and have developed a range of materials in different formats such as leaflets, posters, stickers and umbrellas, which will be distributed through the BP service station network and with Castrol lubricants.

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