Nearly half of the 1,800-odd drivers who participated in a study on mobile use patterns across Indian metro cities admitted they used their phones behind the wheel. This, even as they agreed it was dangerous.
Similar patterns were revealed in what SaveLIFE Foundation and Vodafone India Ltd. claimed was a first-of-its-kind study on “Safety in Mobility” here on Friday. It covered various categories of drivers across eight cities.
The survey was carried out among 1,749 drivers across Delhi, Chennai, Jaipur, Bengaluru, Mangaluru, Kanpur, Mumbai and Kolkata. Within each city, four categories of drivers were surveyed. This included drivers of two-wheelers, cars, trucks, buses and auto-rickshaws.
The survey covered four sections — demography, extent of mobile phone use, effect of mobile phone use on road user behaviour, and perception of mobile phone use by road users.
The study revealed that 94% of people acknowledged using mobile phones while driving as being dangerous, but 47% of them admitted to receiving calls while driving.
Amongst other findings, the study also found that 34% of all respondents tend to apply sudden brakes when talking on the phone while driving, while 20% of respondents admitted to having had near-miss situations or having experienced a road crash due to using mobile phones while driving. As many as 96% of the people spoken to said they felt unsafe as passengers if the driver was using a mobile phone while driving.
The report titled ‘Distracted Driving in India: A Study on Mobile Phone Usage, Pattern and Behaviour’ was released by P. Balaji, Director External Affairs, Regulatory & CSR, Vodafone India, and Saji Cherian, Director Operations, SaveLIFE Foundation.
Mobile app launched
The study was released in the presence of Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways Abhay Damle, who also launched the Vodafone-SaveLIFE Foundation “Road Safe” mobile application. The app has been created to keep drivers away from distractions while driving, besides offering tips on safe driving.
According to the study, 41% of the respondents said they answered calls while driving if it was work-related, while another 36% said they took calls if they were driving slow.
A majority of auto-rickshaw drivers said they took calls during non-stressful traffic conditions, and if they were personal or social calls. A high proportion of truck or bus drivers reported that they generally answered calls and made calls if it is work-related.
In Kolkata and Delhi, 61% and 49% respondents respectively said that they answered calls if they were social calls. Terming it alarming, the report posited that 70% respondents said they answered calls without parking at a safe location. Of these, 13% said that they, in fact, continued driving while on the phone.
Answering and continuing to drive during a call, the report found, was more prevalent among two-wheeler and truck or bus drivers. Similarly, for reading and sending messages/emails, 63% and 64% respondents respectively said that they did not stop at a safe location, and an overall of 10% respondents said they continued driving staying updated with their social media feeds.
According to the report, respondents reported reduction in driving performance when driving and using the mobile phone. As many as 48% respondents across categories said they used turn signals less frequently while driving and talking on the phone, while 32% said they braked more suddenly. Around 29% of drivers said they changed lanes more frequently when messaging and driving.