Mike Stevens | Jun 1, 2012

New figures from insurer AAMI reveal that while young drivers are getting the message on speeding and drink-driving, they're most likely to be reading it from behind the wheel.

According to the company's latest Young Drivers Index report, young motorists deal well with most distractions, but mobile phone use while driving is on the rise.

Of the 3740 young motorists surveyed, 58 percent admitted to sending or reading a text message, or using internet services, while driving.

The problem is described in the report as nomophobia, an abbreviation of "no-mobile-phone phobia," a term coined in British studies on anxiety among regular phone users.

“The average text takes around five seconds to read. If you are going 100km/hr, you’ll hurtle along the length of a footy field with your eyes off the road, only one hand on the wheel and your mind elsewhere," AAMI spokesperson Reuben Aitchison said.

The report shows that number of 18 to 24 year old drivers that say they have driven "while probably over the drink-drive limit" has fallen from 20 percent in 2010 to 15 percent in 2011.

Nearly half (48 percent) admitted in 2010 to speeding to get home or to work sooner, compared to 43 percent in 2011.

The figures for mobile phone use, however, are less impressive. Nearly half (46 percent) say they have used their mobile to make a call without a hands-free set - the highest of any age group.

58 percent of young drivers - the most of any age group - have sent a text message or MMS while driving, and 20 percent have used their mobile to read emails or check the internet while driving.

“The road toll is definitely heading in the right direction, especially when it comes to young drivers, but people aged under 25 are still well over represented in the figures," Aitchison said.

“We urge all drivers, regardless of their age, to have a serious think whether their phone conversation or SMS is really worth the fines or demerit points they face, losing their license, or causing serious injury, or worse, to themselves, their passengers or other road users.”

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