Right Driver

IAM embarrasses itself again with shonky research

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

Changing the radio distracted up to 34% of respondents in the 18-24 age group

Changing the radio distracted up to 34% of respondents in the 18-24 age group

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

18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65+ Male Female
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
Backseat drivers 18 22 21 27 29 36 27 26
Mobile phone calls 21 27 24 23 23 20 26 21
Sat Nav 13 16 14 15 16 13 15 14
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
Digital dashboard 8 5 3 5 7 6 4 7
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.

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