From texting to TV: The terrifying things Aussies are doing behind the wheel

Aug 10, 2021
Are you guilty of any of these bad driving habits? Source: Getty

We’re probably all guilty of being a little distracted behind the wheel at times, but a new study has revealed some terrifying driving habits, and that younger drivers are more likely to be driving distracted than older ones.

According to the Finder Safe Driving Report 2021 – a survey of 925 licensed Australian drivers – more than half (59 per cent) were guilty of multitasking whilst at the wheel, putting innocent lives at risk by driving while distracted. Finder says the shocking figures are the equivalent of more than 10 million people across the nation admitting to dangerous driving.

While eating, smoking, and texting were named the top distractions, it’s some of the other distractions that are really shocking, with many admitting to both personal grooming and watching TV while driving.

The research revealed food was the biggest distraction, with almost half (45 per cent) of Australian drivers admitting to having eaten at the wheel, with the next biggest distraction being a mobile phone.

One in eight (13 per cent) said they had texted while driving, 6 per cent checked their social media and 3 per cent have replied to an email, while a shocking 3 per cent said they had watched a movie or TV while driving.

A terrifying 6 per cent of drivers admitted to ‘microsleeping’, a short burst of sleep behind the wheel, while personal grooming was a common source of distraction with 5 per cent admitting to applying makeup, 4 per cent to changing clothes and 1 per cent revealing they’d shaved behind the wheel.

The research found younger drivers were more likely to be driving distracted than older ones, with over 60s less likely to eat or check their phones behind the wheel. The research found Gen Z drivers – those born in 1995 or after – were twice as likely (16 per cent) to check their social media while driving compared to Millennials (8 per cent), while 58 per cent of Gen Z drivers admitted to snacking while driving, compared to only 27 per cent of Baby Boomers.

Taylor Blackburn, Finder insurance specialist, said even a short time distracted from driving can have deadly consequences, warning that insurance claims would be rejected if dangerous driving habits had resulted in a crash.

“With accessibility almost everywhere it can be tempting to check your notifications,” he said. “A person’s personal grooming routine doesn’t belong in peak hour traffic. Negligent behaviour like watching your phone or texting can mean your claim gets rejected if you are in a crash.

“What might seem like innocent inattention could lead to tragedy — with the number of lives lost on Australian roads an ongoing concern. Not giving your full attention to the road while driving is incredibly dangerous to you and everyone else.”

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