Drivers who pick up dangerous habits

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The Independent Online

Forget road rage. Many motorists' habits are even less savoury and more dangerous. Newspaper-reading, nose- picking, and letter-writing are among the more bizarre pastimes behind the wheel, according to a new survey.

Drivers are also adept at dreaming up elaborate excuses in the wake of accidents, says the Mori poll for the British School of Motoring.

More than one-tenth of motorists questioned admitted to picking their noses, 16 per cent to flicking through the morning papers or reading a book, and 2 per cent to writing letters.

Amusing as the results are, they have left Keith Cameron, the BSM's road safety consultant, worried. "It is amazing how often you notice people reading papers while driving along or turning their head to talk to the person in the back seat and it is often amusing to see people singing along to the radio or picking their nose," he said.

"People do the strangest things in their car, but they don't realise how dangerous they are. If you take your eyes off the road for one second at 70mph you will have covered over 105 feet. Even at 30mph you are covering 45 feet a second.

It is also difficult to concentrate on two things at once, let alone keep control of the car when lighting up a cigarette, eating a sandwich or holding hands with your passenger."

People also put on make-up, comb their hair and chat on the phone. Women sing more than men, but men are twice as likely to be distracted by people in the street or other cars and to read maps and papers.

Drivers over 65 are more likely to say they concentrate only on driving, while 99 per cent of 17-to-24-year-olds combine additional activities at the wheel.

Drivers' excuses for their actions are hard to swallow. Among the explanations were:

t "An invisible car came out of nowhere, struck my car and then it completely vanished."

t "I once collided with a stationary lorry coming the other way."

t "The pedestrian had no idea which direction to run, so I ran him over."