47 percent respondents admitted to receiving calls when driving.

The SaveLife Foundation, an NGO committed to bettering road safety and emergency medical care across India, has published findings of the first study in India on distracted driving. Based on data collected from a national survey conducted by TNS India, the study focuses on the issue of people driving distracted by their mobile phones.

The study covered eight cities – Delhi, Chennai, Jaipur, Bengaluru, Mangalore, Kanpur, Mumbai and Kolkata – and included 1,749 drivers covering various categories of vehicles like two-wheelers, four-wheelers, trucks/buses and autorickshaws.

Factors that can distract a driver include the usage of a mobile phone, eating and drinking, conversations with co-passengers, self-grooming, reading or watching videos, adjusting the radio or music player and even using a GPS system for navigation. Mobile phone usage is said to be the most distracting one as it severely hampers driving performance. Distracted drivers are about four times as likely to be involved in crashes as those who are focused on driving.

The survey brought out some interesting figures on the use of mobile phones while driving.

• 94 percent respondents were aware of its dangers

• 47 percent admitted to receiving calls on their phones

• 34 percent drivers tend to apply their brakes suddenly when using mobile phones

• 20 percent had experienced a near-miss or a crash

India’s record with road safety is abysmal. Every hour, around 16 lives are lost to road crashes in India. In the last decade alone, India lost 1.3 million people to road accidents and another 5.3 million were disabled for life.

To reduce cellphone usage while driving, the study recommends the following:

• Setting up an effective legislation against the use of a mobile device while driving

• Sustained enforcement to prevent the use of mobile devices while driving

• Police data collection of crashes due to mobile phone usage

• Powerful public campaigns to educate about the dangers of mobile phone usage while driving

• Company policies with a clear directive to its employees to follow safety rules on the road

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