Are drivers still distracted by smartphones?

With the rise of smartphones and other devices, people now have access to a lot more distractions than they did previously. While browsing Facebook and playing Candy Crush is fine while you're waiting for a bus, it becomes deadly when used behind the wheel.

Surely, drivers should know to put their phones down when they drive, right? Apparently not, according to AT&T, which found that not only are drivers using their smartphones while driving, they're doing much more than just sending a text. 

Fleet managers need to be aware of these trends to ensure their drivers are operating safely. While we understand that some urgent business needs to be conducted while travelling, the number of hands-free kits on the market mean there is no excuse to take your eyes off the road. 

What do the stats say?

Disturbing research from AT&T discovered that seven people out of every 10 perform some sort of function on their smartphones while driving. Texting and emailing have always been the most common, and this trend shows no sign of slowing down. 

The only major new development is that other smartphone functions are also being used now, with around 40 per cent of smartphone users logging in to social media while driving. According to AT&T, Facebook is most commonly used ahead of Twitter. 

There are other worrying trends found in the research, with AT&T reporting that 17 per cent of drivers have taken a selfie or other photo, and 11 per cent have sent a Snapchat. 

The statistics also represent an attitude problem, with motorists either not realising or not caring that what they're doing is dangerous. The study found that 30 per cent of those admit to sending tweets while driving do it regularly. 

What are the alternatives?

According to the National Safety Council, drivers using their smartphones behind the wheel are four times as likely to be involved in a car crash. Clearly, it's safest for everyone if smartphones are not used at all when operating a vehicle.

But what about people who need to take calls on the road?

There are technologies that facilitate this action. However, drivers still need to take care as having a conversation detracts from their focus on the road. 

Also, hands-free kits need to be used to stay on the right side of the law, as leaving a phone call on speaker as the device rests on your lap is illegal in all states of Australia. 

Ultimately, it's about common sense, safety and responsibility as drivers should be taking every precaution to keep themselves and other road users out of harm's way.