Publication embargo XX XX 2012
DRIVERS ‘IGNORE’ THE ROAD FOR 18 PER CENT OF THEIR
; Revolutionary eye tracking experiment reveals the ‘real’ driving behaviours on
; UK motorists ignore the road for 18 per cent of their journey, rising to 22 per
cent for those using sat nav devices
; On average drivers spend seven per cent of their time gazing at clouds and
; Drivers also spend six times longer watching their sat nav than oncoming
A new scientific study of driver behaviour commissioned by Direct Line car insurance reveals that drivers spend 18 per cent of their time behind the wheel not watching the road at all. Instead they gaze at clouds, scenery, adverts and other non-driving related distractions, on average taking their eyes off the road every nine seconds.
The study, which utilises the latest in eye-tracking technology to record drivers’ eye
movements, found motorists using sat nav devices were even more distracted, with 22 per cent of their time focussed away from the road.
The study shows that drivers with a sat nav have their eyes fixed on this screen, and therefore not looking at the road, for 12 per cent of their total journey time. This is almost four times as long as the average driver spends checking their mirrors (3.2 per cent) and six times longer than they spend observing oncoming traffic (two per cent). For a driver travelling from London to Brighton, a journey of one and half hours, this is equivalent to 11 minutes with their eyes fixed purely on their sat nav screen.
According to the study, the average motorist spends seven per cent of their time on the road gazing at clouds and scenery and 0.8 per cent of their time observing adverts. In contrast, just two per cent of their time is spent actually looking at oncoming vehicles and 0.6 per cent observing road signs.
Interestingly, motorists spend the same amount of time (three per cent) watching pedestrians (who were neither on or crossing the road) as they did checking their mirrors. And while both men and women appear to have been distracted by good looking pedestrians, only men turned their heads completely away from the road as a result.
Simon Henrick, spokesperson for of Direct Line car insurance comments, “For the first
time we know exactly where people focus their eyes when driving and the results are frightening. Even when drivers appear to be watching the road, by tracking movements in the cornea, we now know they are often watching clouds or shop window displays. It is important that every time a driver gets behind the wheel that they concentrate for the whole journey, otherwise they risk injuring themselves and others.”
Table one: What motorists really look at when driving:
Buildings, clouds and scenery 7.1 5.2 8.7
Sat nav 5.6 12.0 0.0
Pedestrians on the pavement 2.7 2.4 3.0
Advertising 0.8 0.5 1.1
Map 0.7 0.6 0.7
Speedo 0.5 0.5 0.5
Radio 0.2 0.2 0.2
Passenger 0.1 0.1 0.1
Smoking 0.1 0.2 0.0
Not looking at the road total 17.8 21.7 14.3
Road total (including oncoming vehicles,
pedestrians crossing the road, parked vehicles, 82.5 78.8 85.7 mirrors, traffic lights and road signs)
Source: Direct Line Car Insurance
Direct Line car insurance commissioned a revolutionary eye tracking experiment to establish where motorists’ eyes are really focussed. The experiment saw participants wearing
specialist glasses that pinpoint the exact focus of the eye by tracking microscopic
movements in the cornea. This innovative experiment was captured on film and enabled researchers to establish exactly where drivers focus their vision.
Video evidence also reveals drivers engaging in dangerous behaviours, such as changing between two sat nav devices and gazing down at a mobile phone held in their lap to navigate.
Videos from this innovative eye tracking experiment are available, which demonstrate such dangerous behaviours as changing sat nav while driving and driving using a hand held mobile phone to navigate.
Notes to editors
1 Bunnyfoot, psychologists & human-computer interface experts, conducted research of behalf of Direct Lin Car Insurance amongst a representative sample of 100 UK drivers in locations including London, Sheffield and Oxford in August 2012.
For further information please contact
Kia McLean – Citigate Dewe Rogerson – 020 7282 1092 – Kia.McLean@citigatedr.co.uk
Ewan Robertson - Citigate Dewe Rogerson - 020 7638 9571 – Ewan.Robertson@citigatedr.co.uk
Katie Pugh – Citigate Dewe Rogerson – 020 7282 2914 – Katie.Pugh@citigatedr.co.uk
Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.
Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales no 1179980. U K Insurance Limited are authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.
Direct Line and UK Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc, which is wholly owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland Group.
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