A region-wide survey of over 1,000 adults within the six counties* covered by Midlands Air Ambulance Charity has revealed over a quarter (27 per cent) of drivers aged between 35 and 44 years old had not taken any listed measures to reduce how distracted they felt whilst driving, which could lead to a serious and possibly life-threatening incident.
The YouGov survey was conducted as part of Midlands Air Ambulance Charity and corporate partner M6toll’s Drive4Life campaign. Recent figures show that despite the nation going into lockdown earlier this year, demand for the local lifesaving charity did not falter, and unfortunately road traffic collisions involving pushbikes rose during March and June by 400 per cent year on year.
Alarmingly, the Drive4Life survey highlighted over one in ten (13%) of respondents aged 35-44 said they had sent texts, emails or had been on social media whilst driving.
When asked what actions were taken in a two month period to reduce how distracted they felt when driving, those aged between 35 and 44 years old demonstrated only 44 per cent planned their journey ahead of starting their drive, and only one in five take regular breaks on long journeys.
Ian Roberts, air operations manager for Midlands Air Ambulance Charity, comments: “On average, the flight doctors and critical care paramedics on-board our air ambulance helicopters and critical care cars attend up to 700 road traffic collisions per year. The results of the survey are disappointing to read, but unfortunately it reflects the demographic of a number of people who are most likely to need our pre-hospital clinical expertise, which is the 35-50 year old bracket.”
As each air ambulance mission requires on average £2,500 of funding, road traffic collisions cost the charity up to £1.75million each year, which is entirely funded through donations from the public and local businesses. Not making an effort to reduce distractions while behind the wheel could therefore be costing the charity thousands of pounds.
Worryingly, the Drive4Life survey also showed ten per cent of all respondents (aged 18 and above thought it was legal to use a mobile phone while driving if it was being used as a sat nav at the same time, and a further 12 per cent were uncertain if it was legal or not.
Furthermore, just over a fifth of those surveyed who have pets (21 per cent) did not know that legally animals must be restrained in a vehicle by way of a pet seatbelt or safety guard. When looking at all adults surveyed in Worcestershire, this figure rose to 23 per cent.
Ian continues: “Multitasking and distractions both outside and in a vehicle can mean a driver’s concentration on the road is affected, reducing their driving standard. This could ultimately lead to an incident – potentially with life-threatening or life changing consequences. We would urge all drivers to think about how they can limit the number of distractions to potentially help reduce the number of incidents that take place.”
James Hodson, director of motorway operations for Midland Expressway Limited, operators of the M6toll and Drive4Life campaign partners, added: “Safety on the M6toll is one of our key priorities, and we are pleased to have been able to partner with MAAC to help raise awareness of the most common distractions witnessed on the UK’s road network in an attempt to keep all road users safe. Taking a break is the best way to refresh and revive yourself on a long drive. Roadchef Norton Canes services on the M6toll offers a quick coffee break, the opportunity to safely make a call or have a quick stroll with your four-legged friend”.
For more information on Drive4Life, please visit midlandsairambulance.com/drive4life. Find out more about Midlands Air Ambulance Charity at midlandsairambulance.com and follow the organisation on social media.