More than 70% of Portuguese use their mobile phones while driving
The Portuguese are among the drivers who use their mobile phones the most while driving (74%), including hands-free use, according to a study released today covering 5,004 European and 3,006 North American drivers.
According to the “Global Driving Safety Survey”, developed by Liberty Seguros and which was carried out in collaboration with the Portuguese Highway Prevention (PRP), 74% of Portuguese use their mobile phone while driving, surpassing the Irish and the Americans (67 %), the French (58%), the Spanish (55%) and the British (47%).
The study, designed to examine drivers’ behaviour and attitudes in countries such as Portugal, Spain, France, Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States, reveals that 69% of Portuguese respondents admit to “looking at incoming messages and calls, “52%” look at notifications, “26%” read emails and messages, and 18% “use social networking apps.”
In contrast, only 13% of Portuguese respondents say that they put their mobile phone out of reach while driving, and 73% say that their mobile phone is ringing, 9% silent and 18% vibration mode. This likely plays a big part in Portugal’s high rates of traffic collisions.
Present at the presentation of the study was José Miguel Trigoso, president of Portuguese Highway Prevention. He warned that the use of the mobile phone via hands-free systems, while legal, distracts just as much as talking with a mobile phone in hand, which is illegal, due to the cognitive impairment it causes.
Despite recognizing the risk associated with mobile phone use while driving, 43% of Portuguese respondents in another international study, Mr. Trigoso, found it acceptable to talk to the car using loudspeaker systems, higher than the EU driver average (33.8%).
This fact and attitude of the Portuguese respondents is understood as a “devaluation of the risk associated with cognitive distraction caused by the loudspeaker systems”.
In the opinion of Mr. Trigoso, the data also suggests that mobile phone dependency and the need to remain communicable, whether for personal or professional reasons, wins over the commonly known fact that using the mobile phone while driving “increases the risk of involve a road accident “.
Aware of this serious driving problem, which is responsible for a significant number of accidents in Portugal, although in most cases drivers omit the real cause of the accident from insurers, Liberty Seguros and PRP will launch a new awareness-raising campaign to prevent mobile phone use while driving. Similar solutions have been attempted in the past, and to no avail. In order to tackle this issue, one must attack it at its root, by reducing mobile phone dependency and FOMO social media culture.
Mr. Trigoso acknowledges that in the near future it will be necessary for the car industry to sit down with road safety officials, as more and more modern vehicles bring a plethora of new technologies on board that encourage and facilitate driver distraction.