The Institute of Advanced Motorists should stick to doing what it does most excellently: teaching people how to drive awesomely. It should stop doing poorly conducted and contradictory research.
The latest embarrassment for the IAM is new research outlining what most takes our eyes off the road. We know (and it’s obvious) that if something takes our eyes off the road, then it distracts us – it means we are not paying attention while driving. However, a couple of weeks ago, the IAM released some research that said that only 40% of drivers drive distracted. We contested this because it was blatantly untrue (the research methods were flawed from the start by just ‘asking’ people if they drove distracted, so this is more a survey about honesty than driving habits).
Again, IAM’s statistical analysis is left wanting. While 1447 respondents were polled throughout the UK (which would give a margin of error rate of around 3%), there were 10 separate regions which gives less than 150 people per region. Therefore the regional stats quoted could be out by as much as 8-9%.
Indeed, these most recent figures seem to indicate that of the 1447 drivers that were surveyed, all of them (100%) admitted to one or more of the distractions. And if they didn’t, then the survey size is even smaller. If it really was 4 in 10 people that drive distracted, Vision Critical, who helped conduct the survey would have only found 40% of the 1447 people could answer, meaning around 580 people would have been distracted and everyone else would have poked them and said, “Oi. I don’t drive distracted.”
What should you take from this survey
If you want to drive safely, get a vasectomy in your teens, don’t smoke, don’t listen to music in the car, eschew a cellphone, never carry passengers, navigate using the magnetic lines of the earth, and make sure that you find no one else attractive however buff from the gym/voluptuously buxom and scantily clad they are when walking down the road. Or you could ride a motorbike with the kind of blinkers the Amish make their horses wear.
The basic message is that, as the Doors said in Roadhouse Blues, you should keep your eyes on the road and your hands upon the wheel.
Please, IAM, either start doing meaningful research, or stick to what you are excellent at.
Here are the results of the survey:
Age and gender breakdown
|Looking at the view||23||29||30||35||34||36||32||32|
|Children in the car||23||32||41||31||25||21||27||33|
|Changing the radio channel||34||21||32||25||28||25||25||28|
|Mobile phone calls||21||27||24||23||23||20||26||21|
|Attractive pedestrians, drivers or passengers||16||16||11||21||11||9||24||3|
|Adverts and shop fronts||21||13||12||8||14||9||10||14|
|Texts and social media updates||23||17||10||8||8||5||12||9|
|Lighting up a cigarette||7||6||5||6||9||3||6||6|
|Cuddling or kissing by a passenger||6||5||2||1||0||1||3||1|
Darren has owned several companies in the automotive, advertising and education industries. He has run driving theory educational websites since 2010.