A new report from the European Road Safety Observatory identifies driver distraction as a key challenge to road safety and a significant risk factor in traffic. The thematic report on “Driver Distraction” was released as part of the European Commission’s efforts to promote safe mobility across the EU.
The report highlights that car drivers are engaged in distracting activities for approximately 50% of all driving time. The most common sources of driver distraction are from using mobile phones, interacting with the vehicle’s information systems, interacting with passengers and eating.
Distractions where the driver’s gaze is averted from the road present a particular danger, with drivers subject to longer reaction times, swerving, and missing important traffic information. In particular, the use of mobile phones whilst driving is one of the most common sources of distraction for drivers.
The report highlights that one in three European drivers admits to using a handheld phone and 25% admit to checking notifications or social media - with younger drivers more likely to use a mobile phone whilst driving than older people. Research has shown that using a handheld phone whilst driving can increase crash risk by 2.5 times.
The report also highlights effective measures against distracted driving, including: strict enforcement of bans on the use of handheld devices (including through the use of smart cameras); building rumble strips into road infrastructure; awareness campaigns; driver education through licensing; and in-vehicle technology that warns or intervenes when departing from a lane or approaching too close to a vehicle in front.
Preventing driver distraction is an important step towards achieving the EU target of reducing road deaths and serious injuries by 50% by 2030, as set out in the EU road safety policy framework 2021-2030.
The full report is available here: Thematic Report Distraction
Other thematic reports from the European Road Safety Observatory are available here: All thematic reports by the European Road Safety Observatory
- Publication date
- 26 January 2024
- Safety and urban mobility