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UK: A nation on autopilot: Over half of UK drivers have had a near miss or accident due to ’switching off’ during routine journeys

• Four out of five (83%) drivers admit to ‘switching off’ and losing concentration when making routine journeys

• Two out of five (41%) struggle to remember details of these journeys

• Nearly all (94%) drivers report making routine journeys regularly

United Kingdom – WEBWIRE

More than four-fifths of UK drivers (83%) admit to ‘switching off’ and not concentrating when making routine car journeys, new research from Aviva reveals, with a further two in five (41%) saying they sometimes can’t remember the details of these journeys. This comes despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of motorists (93%) believe not paying full attention while driving poses a risk to other road users.

The figures come from a new study of more than 2,000 UK motorists who drive at least once a week. The vast majority (94%) said they undertake routine journeys at least on a weekly basis, with the most common routine journey being to and from work (58%), followed by trips to the supermarket or local shops (55%). One in five (21%) drivers also say the school run is a routine journey they make frequently.

The research suggests that ‘switching off’, or ‘driving on autopilot’, during routine journeys directly affects road safety. Overall, more than half of drivers questioned (54%) said they had either had a near miss (38%) or had an accident / damaged their car (16%) as a result of not giving a routine journey their full attention.

The study suggests that people are more likely to ‘multitask’ when driving on familiar routes than other journeys. For example, large numbers of drivers report being more likely to listen to music (73%), talk to other passengers (40%), look at something outside (24%), and think about things other than driving (21%) while making routine journeys.

In contrast, when undertaking an unfamiliar journey, drivers are more likely to ensure they arrive safely by planning their route in advance (73%), leaving more time to complete their journey (58%) and making more effort to drive carefully (29%).

Adam Beckett, propositions director for Aviva comments: “Many drivers make the same journey several times each week – or even every day – and become very familiar with the route. This can make it easy for a driver’s attention to drift elsewhere, which is worrying given the unpredictable nature of the roads.

“It is important that drivers stay focused no matter how routine the journey is, not just for their own safety, but also for the safety of passengers and other road users. By staying focused, drivers can help to avoid preventable accidents, which in turn can help to keep premiums down.”

Aviva is an official sponsor of road safety charity Brake’s national Road Safety Week. Since December 2015 the insurer has been running a high profile awareness campaign involving TV advertising, social media, outdoor and PR activities to encourage people to think about their behaviours on the road.

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* Methodology: Based on a nationally representative survey of 2,011 UK drivers aged 17 and over who drive at least once a week, carried out by Censuswide in June 2016.

 About Aviva:

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