The bigger the car you own, the more likely you are to use your mobile phone while driving.
That’s one of the findings from a new survey of motorists by Canstar Blue, which found that owners of sports utility vehicles and four-wheel-drives are more likely to use their mobile phones while driving than owners of smaller cars.
The next worst offenders are drivers of sedans, followed by small cars such as hatchbacks.
“Drivers of SUVs and four-wheel-drives have long been accused of thinking they own the roads and this survey certainly seems to support that theory,” said Head of Canstar Blue, Megan Doyle. “These drivers presumably feel safer and less susceptible to accidents behind the wheel of a larger vehicle and appear to be taking more risks as a result.”
“Driving a larger vehicle should come with an extra sense of responsibility – not less. It doesn’t matter what car you drive.”
The survey, of 1,499 motorists, found that 34% of SUV and 4WD owners have made or received a phone call (without hands free) while in control of their vehicle. That compares to 27% of drivers who own a sedan and 25% who drive a small car.
Owners of SUVs and 4WDs are also more likely to have sent a text message while driving (25%). That compares to 24% of sedan drivers and 22% of small car owners.
And the same applies to using mobile phones for social media, with 14% of SUV and 4WD owners admitting to looking at Facebook or Twitter while in control of their vehicle, compared to 13% of sedan drivers and 10% of small car owners.
Despite their reckless behaviour behind the wheel, 98% of SUV and 4WD owners believe they are responsible drivers, compared to 96% of both sedan and small car owners.
“There are a clearly a lot of deluded motorists on our roads,” said Mrs Doyle. “Overall, 84% of drivers said they get mad at other motorists when they see them using a phone, but this obviously includes some of the people who are guilty of doing exactly the same.”
Mobile phone use by age
The survey also found a strong link between age and phone use, with young motorists the most likely to use their mobiles for calls, texts and social media while in control of their vehicles. More than half (56%) of drivers aged 18-29 have sent a text message, while 48% admit to making or receiving a call and 33% looking at social media.
The older a driver is, the less likely they are to use their phones for any reason, the survey found.
Mobile phone use by state
Motorists in Western Australia were found to be the biggest traffic twits in Australia, with 36% admitting to making or receiving a call without hands free. They were also most likely to have sent a text message while driving (31%). Meanwhile drivers in Victoria were most likely to have looked at social media while behind the wheel (17%).
Motorists in Queensland and South Australia are generally least likely to use their mobile phones while behind the wheel, the survey found.
About this research
Canstar Blue surveyed 1,499 motorists who have purchased a new car in the last three years. The survey was undertaken between September and November. The results include responses from 454 owners of an SUV or 4WD, 453 who drive a sedan and 592 who have a small car like a hatchback.