Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) Leads Motorists to Check Social Media While Driving

Social media and FOMO (fear of missing out) could be putting road-users at risk, as motorists admit to checking social networking sites and reading messages on their phones while driving, according to UK insurer Aviva.

A poll of 1,565 drivers* carried out by Aviva found that four in 10 people questioned (42 percent) had used their phone at some point while driving for reasons other than hands-free calls.

The poll reveals that drivers aged 24 and under are most likely to be using their devices while in charge of a motor vehicle. Two-thirds questioned (66 percent) said they had used their mobile phones while driving, with four in 10 (40 percent) reading text messages and one in five (22 percent) using Facebook. Around one in five in this age group also admitted to checking photo sharing apps such as Snapchat (19 percent) and Instagram (21 percent).

The research showed that across all age groups, the most popular reasons for picking up mobiles while behind the wheel were to answer calls (not hands free) and to use sat-nav facilities.

A report from the Department for Transport published in 2015** found that 1.6 percent of drivers in the England and Scotland had been observed using a hand-held mobile phone while driving. This equates to around 728,000 drivers using hand-held devices on the roads.***

“Driving while using a hand-held mobile phone is illegal, including when the car is stationary but still in use, so it’s shocking to see how many people are still breaking the law and potentially putting other road users at risk,” said Peter Markey, brand and marketing communications director for Aviva.

“At Aviva unfortunately we see every day the often devastating consequences of where people haven’t been concentrating while driving, so we’re urging people to take action and put down their phones,” he added.

“As part of our crusade to make Britain’s roads safer, we recently took to the streets to ask people whether they would like to legalise using phones while driving. Unsurprisingly an overwhelming majority of people questioned were horrified at the prospect, yet still too many people are taking their eyes off the roads because they can’t wait to check that message – or even upload that photo!”

Aviva released short video on mobile phone usage while driving, “which turns the phone debate on its head.” When an actor asks members of the public to sign a petition to legalize all mobile phone usage while driving, the video shows that people are appalled by this prospect. The film can be seen at www.youtube.com/user/AvivaUK .

* The survey was conducted online by ICM Limited on behalf of Aviva during June 2016 with 2,021 respondents of whom 1,565 were drivers. Out of 1,565 drivers surveyed, 655 admitted to using their mobile phones for reasons other than hands-free calls, equating to 42 percent of drivers polled. For the purposes of the survey, “driving” is classified as including being stationary in traffic while the engine is on.

** Source: Seat belt and mobile phone use surveys: England and Scotland 2014.

*** Source: Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency: As of Sept. 30, 2014, there were 45.5 million active driving records in Great Britain.

Source: Aviva