One in ten drivers admit to autopilot, says IAM

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The IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) is urging motorists to beware of the perils of driving on autopilot following research which shows that one in ten drivers are often unable to remember their entire car journey.

Latest research by the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) shows that one in ten drivers are often unable to remember their entire car journey.

The poll of almost 1500 drivers, carried out by Vision Critical on behalf of the IAM, also revealed that fifty-four per cent of drivers admitted to missing a turning because they were distracted. A further 14 per cent of drivers are quite often unable to recall any part of their journey in the car.

Younger drivers (18-25 year olds) are the most likely to be in danger of distraction. Thirty-five per cent stating they couldn’t recall any part of their journey, often or quite often. In comparison only five per cent of older drivers (65+) admitted to not remembering their journey.

Driving on autopilot appears to differ by region too. Twenty-two per cent of Londoners are less likely to recall any part of their journey, compared to only 11 per cent of Scottish drivers, and 10 per cent of drivers in the South West.

The survey also found that this behaviour had a significant impact on performance:

  • Fifty-four per cent of drivers admitted to missing turnings because of it.

IAM chief executive Simon Best said: “It’s all too easy to get behind the wheel and zone out completely. Being distracted enough that you miss a turning is a sign that driving is a task that has fallen too low in your brain’s priorities. While we all have other concerns and stresses in our lives which can take precedence in our minds, the act of driving should remain your biggest priority when behind the wheel.”

“The fact is it takes too long to react appropriately if you are not concentrating on driving. Being distracted can have serious consequences, it could mean that you’re less likely to see that cyclist or child running out until it’s too late.”

The IAM offers the following advice to keep you alert on the roads:

  • Keep your eyes moving
  • Make concentrating on the road ahead your main priority
  • Roll down the windows for some fresh air

For longer trips:

  • Plan your journey to include a stop at least once every two hours.
  • If you feel drowsy, stop at the next service area and stretch your legs
  • For longer journeys, where possible, share the driving with another driver
  • Make sure you drink enough fluids.


Notes to editors

1. Twitter hashtag: #safelyhome
2. Survey undertaken by Vision Critical, total number of respondents: 1447.
4. The IAM is the UK’s largest independent road safety charity, dedicated to improving standards and safety in driving, motorcycling and cycling. The commercial division of the IAM operates through its occupational driver training company IAM Drive & Survive. The IAM has more than 200 local volunteer groups and over 100,000 members in the UK and Ireland. It is best known for the advanced driving test and the advanced driving, motorcycling and cycling courses. Its policy and research division offers advice and expertise on road safety.


Media contacts:
IAM Press Office – 020 8996 9777
ISDN broadcast lines available

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Tanvir Nandra
Institute of Advanced Motorists
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