Nose-pickers steer path to danger

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The Independent Online
MATTHEW BRACE

Forget road rage. Many drivers' personal habits are even less savoury and more dangerous. Nose-picking, newspaper reading and letter-writing are among the more unsavoury and bizarre habits people resort to behind the wheel, according to a new survey.

They 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 those 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, rather 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 simply don't realise how dangerous they are. If you take your eyes off the road for only one second at 70mph you will have covered over 105 feet.

"Even at 30mph you are covering 45 feet every second. It is also very 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 their make-up, comb their hair and chat on the phone. Women sing more than men while driving, 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 years of age are more likely to say they concentrate only on their driving, while 99 per cent of 17- to 24-year-olds combine additional activities when behind the wheel. The survey found that young people are six times more likely to hold hands with their passengers and three times more likely to eat and drink in the car.

Drivers' excuses are also hard to swallow. Among the explanations given were:

t "An invisible car came out of nowhere, struck my car and 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."

t "I looked across at my mother-in-law and headed over the embankment."

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