Roadside distractions survey

25 August 2009

Keeping their eyes on the road could be a challenge for drivers particularly when the weather is hot and sunny, according to AA Insurance. The broker has highlighted top distractions for motorists and found that men are more likely to be distracted than women – especially if an attractive person catches their eye.

There's a revealing peril on Britain's roads this August: nearly three-quarters of male AA/Populus panel members say they are distracted by attractive people in other cars and on the street.

But topping even that distraction are nice views, which proves to be the biggest head-turner for both sexes when driving.

An AA/Populus survey of over 21,000 AA members reveals that the top distraction for drivers is 'a nice view'. A startling three quarters of all drivers (75%) say that their eyes are drawn to the vista beyond the car window, rather than the road ahead.

Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance, says: "Men seem much more likely to be distracted from what they are supposed to be doing behind the wheel, regardless of what draws their attention: even for a view, more men are likely to take they eyes off the road than women (77% against 72%)."

But by far the biggest difference between the sexes appears to be when it comes to eyeing up attractive people in other cars or on the street.

70 per cent of men admit that they are distracted by an attractive person in another car or on the street, against just 25 per cent of women.

And it seems that drivers are becoming more easily distracted.

A similar AA survey five years ago revealed that 66 per cent of men, and 10 per cent of women, admitted being distracted by an attractive person.

"We do notice an increase in the number of minor shunts during August (excluding the winter months). This research suggests distractions are likely to be a factor in the accident statistics, although most people are unlikely to admit it on a claim form – especially if they were eyeing up an attractive member of the opposite sex, perhaps showing off a lot of their suntan!"

Other roadside distractions including billboard adverts, roadside art (such as the Angel of the North) and low-flying aircraft are all likely to distract men significantly more than women. Adds Douglas: "The AA does get a lot of calls from people suggesting that roadside features such as sculptures, views and even wind turbines create accident risk hot spots.

"There are many distractions for the modern-day driver and most can easily adjust to them but for some drivers too much distraction could lead to a collision," adds Douglas. "Our best advice is to stop in a safe place if you can, to look at views or other roadside features. A collision would ruin your journey – to say nothing of having to pay an insurance excess, possible loss of your no-claim bonus and the risk of a careless driving conviction.

"Keep your eyes on the road, hands on the wheel and try to shut out other diversions – no matter how decorative."

Key findings

The AA/Populus research of 21,173 AA members took place online between 3rd and 10th August 2009.

Distractions admitted to were:

Nice view

male - 77%
female - 72%
all - 75%

Attractive person in car or on street

male - 70%
female - 25%
all - 51%

Low flying aircraft

male - 60%
female - 48%
all - 55%

Advertising billboard

male - 53%
female - 50%
all - 52%

Roadside art (i.e. Angel of the North)

male - 32%
female - 28%
all - 30%

Those aged 35-44 are most likely to be distracted by an attractive person (54%)

Those aged 55-64 are most likely to be distracted by a nice view (76%)

Drivers in the South are most likely to be distracted by a view (77%)

People in the North West are most likely to be distracted by billboard advertising (54%)

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3 September 2009