Texting, reading magazines,
eating and applying makeup are among the top 10 driver
distractions, according to a new AA Insurance survey.
Despite being illegal, texting while driving remained the
number one distraction - especially for younger drivers and
women - according to the 2012-2013 Drivers Index survey.
The survey, which polled 1000 regular Kiwi drivers aged 18
years and over, found while 92 per cent of respondents
regarded texting as distracting, nearly two in 10 people
still sent text messages while driving.
The ban on texting and using a mobile phone without a
hands-free kit came into force in November 2009, yet it was
the third consecutive year respondents rated texting as the
top driver distraction.
Younger drivers were the worst offenders and, at 23 per cent,
women were almost twice as likely as men (12 per cent) to to
text while driving, the survey found.
AA Insurance head of customer relations Suzanne Wolton said
using a mobile phone while driving can result in serious and
A recent example included a driver who was texting his wife
and let his car drift into a car parked on the side of the
road, she said. The split-second distraction caused several
thousand dollars worth of damage to the parked vehicle and
$1900 to his own car.
People outside the vehicle were also a common distraction, Ms
Wolton said. One AA Insurance claim presented a common
occurrence, she said, where a male driver was watching an
attractive woman walk along the footpath and while
distracted, he ended up hitting the car in front of him -
resulting in a claim worth around $2000.
Eating while driving made number seven on the list. An
example which had recently come to AA Insurance's attention
involved a customer who had dropped food onto his seat.
While looking down to retrieve it, he drove through a red
light and collided with another vehicle turning right,
resulting in $3500 damage to the other driver's car, plus
several thousand dollars worth of damage to his own.
However, not all drivers using a mobile phone when a crash
occurred would be refused insurance, Ms Wolton said.
"The use of the mobile phone has to be a significant
contributor to the accident.
"If you're on your mobile phone and you're stopped at traffic
lights and you're rear-ended, then generally we would pay
out, because the use of the phone hasn't really contributed
to the accident.
"But if you're driving along at night [in] poor conditions
and you're talking on your phone or you're texting someone
and you have an accident, that might be different."
National road policing manager Superintendent Carey Griffiths
said driving a car was not something to be taken casually, as
for most people it was the most dangerous activity they would
"It's not okay for example to be on the open road at 100km/h
and not be giving your full attention to driving because
you're using your phone or handheld device to send a text or
check an email, as nothing is that important."
Top 10 driver
1. Texting on a mobile phone
2. Reading a newspaper or
Personal grooming, ie applying make-up,
on mobile phones without a handsfree
7. Eating while
in the car
Talking on mobile phones with a handsfree
10= Looking at
billboards / outdoor advertising or people outside the
Source: AA Insurance
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