BRENTWOOD, England – European motorists are too easily distracted behind the wheel, according to the results of a survey commissioned by Ford Motor Company.
A poll of more than 4,300 drivers from Spain, Italy, France, Germany and Britain reveals that a worrying number continue to regularly put themselves and other road users at risk, by using handheld mobile phones, eating and drinking and, in some cases, even applying make-up while on the move.
What is more, Europe's motorists even have a pretty poor opinion of their own driving ability, with 62 per cent of those questioned not being confident they would pass a driving test if they had to take it again.
"This survey clearly demonstrates the urgent need for us all to improve our concentration levels behind the wheel," said Stuart Southgate, director, Automotive Safety Office, Ford of Europe.
EU statistics published this year show that more than 1.5 million people were injured in road accidents across Europe during 2009. Ford commissioned its road safety survey as part of the company’s pan-European Future of Safety Tour to gain an insight into driving behaviour and to gauge which safety features motorists most appreciate on cars.
German drivers reported the highest usage of handheld mobile phones while driving, with nearly half those questioned saying they have made calls while driving. At the other end of the scale, just 6 per cent of British drivers said they used mobile phones behind the wheel.
Italian motorists professed to be the most confident in their driving skills, with 50 per cent certain they could pass a driving test first time out if they had to take it again, compared to just 30 per cent of Germans.
As to whether men or women are safer drivers, only Germany favoured men, with 22 per cent of those questioned supporting the males, 21 per cent backing women and the rest expressing no preference. In contrast, 50 per cent of French motorists said women are safer.
When it comes to safety systems in cars, the survey reveals that airbags are the most appreciated feature, polling 25 per cent of the total votes in this section. Just behind in second spot with 21 per cent, were low-speed collision avoidance technologies, such as Ford's Active City Stop system.
"Active City Stop is just one of the technologies we’ve been showcasing on our Future of Safety Tour around Europe this summer," said Southgate. "We’ve visited 28 cities across 11 countries demonstrating how Active City Stop automatically applies the brakes if its sensors detect that a collision with a vehicle in front is likely.
"Another feature on display is an inflatable rear seat belt, which is designed to enhance protection for rear-seat occupants. We’ve also been demonstrating Active Park Assist, a driver assist feature. All of these technologies have been very well received everywhere we’ve been."