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Drivers doze off at the wheel in minutes

Written by John Davies

Posted on March 5, 2012

New research has found that UK motorists’ are disengaging their minds shortly after getting behind the wheel of their cars.

This driving ‘disconnect’ is set to pose a serious threat to safety on British roads, and highlights the critical need for comprehensive motor insurance cover.

The survey, commissioned by esure car insurance, revealed that the majority of UK drivers switch off just 11 minutes after getting into their vehicles; making a dangerous slip into autopilot mode.

While a quarter of UK motorists confessed that they are easily bored while driving, 22% of them admitted to driving on autopilot. The most common reasons cited for this distracted driving were thoughts related to work (25%) and drowsiness (24%).

Worryingly 34% of motorists even admitted to driving somewhere without being able to recall full details of their route. A further 14% are so immersed in ‘daydreaming’ while driving that they have driven to other familiar places -such as their office- instead of going to their desired destination.

‘Glazing over’

Up to 32% of respondents said they carry out specific activities to keep their minds stimulated on the road. These include changing the radio station or quickly checking their phone. Other ‘tech actions’ included surfing the internet (21%), making a phone call (20%) and sending a text message (18%).

“Normally, this ‘glazing over’ is the way that the brain attempts to save mental space and energy for any new, fresh challenges that might arise,” said Behavioural Psychologist, Donna Dawson.

“This response may happen more frequently in people who are avid technology users because without the high level of mental stimulation that they are used to, they may find driving to be more monotonous and boring than the non-technology user,” explained the psychologist.

The study’s authors warned that a lack of mental stimulation while driving has already led to 13% of drivers having actual or near miss accidents on UK roads.

Prevent and protect

Drivers should do all they can to focus on the road in order to avoid accidents. Having car insurance in place is essential for the protection of drivers and any third parties they come into contact with.