Rise in drivers using Twitter behind the wheelPolice warn of social networking while driving

21 March 2011

Woman using her mobile phone at the wheel

More and more people are using Twitter and Facebook while they are driving

Devon and Cornwall Police have warned drivers of the dangers of using Twitter and Facebook behind the wheel, after revealing that it has been catching more and more people using social networking sites on their mobile phones while driving.

Research conducted by the RAC found one in five motorists in the south west had admitted to checking Twitter and Facebook alerts when they were driving, making social networking a focus of the new clampdown on ‘complacent and arrogant behaviour’ by motorists, alongside speeding, drink driving and not wearing seat belts.

Social media becoming more common than texting behind the wheel

Woman using her mobile phone while driving

One in five in the south west admitted to driving and checking Twitter and Facebook alerts

Despite it being illegal to use a handheld mobile phone while driving since December 2003, motorists are still using these devices behind the wheel.

However, new reports suggest the use of mobile phones when driving is starting to diverge from texting and making phone calls to checking Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Advances in mobile phone technology have made it possible to access social media accounts online from almost anywhere. And it appears many people are taking advantage of this while they are driving.

Inspector Richard Price, from Devon and Cornwall Police’s road policing unit, told the BBC: 'The availability of information is sometimes too tempting to drivers, and many are picking up the phone and updating their (Facebook) site.

'This can lead to careless and even dangerous driving that can have catastrophic consequences.'

Tell us what you think should be done about people using mobile phones behind the wheel here

New ‘pay as you drive’ insurance for young drivers

This report comes just a few days after Co-operative Insurance launched a groundbreaking new product for young drivers, which calculates premiums based on driving behaviours and rewards safe driving.

The ‘pay how you drive’ solution for 17-to-25-year olds uses a Smartbox transmitter in the car to monitor driving behaviour.

Using satellite technology, the Smartbox assesses braking and acceleration, cornering, speed, and the time of day - or night - the car is being driven. 

Young drivers are rewarded for safer driving with a Safe Driving Discount, which is up to 11% of the annual premium.

Co-operative claims the new system will offer insurance to young drivers at £328 less on average than its competitors. 

Policyholders are assessed every 90 days, based on the four driving behaviours. If they drive consistently badly, their insurance premium could rise by as much as 15% from the initial policy price. And those who drive unacceptably will have their policy cancelled.

Customers will be able to log in to a Driving Dashboard online, which tells them how their driving is being rated against the four different behaviours, and also offers tips on how they can improve.

David Neave, Director of General Insurance at the firm, said: 'By using the Smartbox telematics technology we can see how a young driver behaves behind the wheel.

'This innovative technology will ensure young drivers are given access to fairly priced motor insurance, with the added bonus that the better their driving, the bigger the Safer Driving Discount.'

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