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Fancy a sandwich, doing your make-up or reading a book? IAM RoadSmart and Auto Express lift the lid on motorists’ shameful drive-time habits

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IAM RoadSmart and Auto Express magazine teamed up to investigate commuters and their bad driving habits on a busy weekday … to find some drivers think nothing of eating, drinking or wearing headphones at the wheel – and some even decided applying make-up and reading a book was acceptable.

The surprising findings were recorded over the course of a day by Auto Express alongside Peter Rodger, head of driving advice at IAM RoadSmart, in two separate London locations.

The research, which is featured in the 1 March issue of Auto Express – the UK’s biggest selling car magazine - observed no less than 66 traffic violations, including 22 instances of hand-held mobile phone use (33%), 12 cases of wearing headphones (18%) and 10 instances of eating and drinking (15%).

Last week (1 March) the penalties for using a hand-held mobile phone whilst at the wheel of a car was doubled to a £200 fine and six points on your driving licence. Those committing the offence in their first two years of earning their driving licence face an instant driving ban.

Of the 22 cases of mobile phone use witnessed, Auto Express reported: “Most appeared to be either sending a text or using an app. And although some put their phones away when traffic continued to move, others started driving while texting.”

Although not in the same league as the use of smartphones, Peter added although eating and drinking is not illegal as such, it can lead to “driving without due care and attention” which is a serious offence - and their reaction times will almost certainly be slower.

But the two cases of people applying make-up and one of a taxi driver reading a book were the most surprising spots by the pair.

Sarah Sillars, IAM RoadSmart Chief Executive Officer, said: “We really need drivers to acknowledge that the use of smartphones can cause serious accidents and is just as socially unacceptable as drink-driving. No phone call is important enough to put other people’s lives in danger.”

Steve Fowler, Auto Express Editor-in-Chief, said: “Our survey was a real eye-opener and revealed what drivers get up to behind the wheel. Mobile phone use has reached an unacceptable level and the new laws are welcomed but this highlights that motorists need to focus more on the task at hand and avoid being distracted.”

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