The real data behind accidents caused by phone driving is still largely unknown, but a legislative response is expected soon.
Capital area police, in response to an inquiry from Vísir, report that police know of six traffic accidents since the beginning of 2010 directly caused by drivers using their phones behind the wheel, two of them fatal. At the same time, there have been 16 traffic incidents where no accident occurred that are linked to the same cause.
However, Ómar Smári Ármannsson, the assistant chief superintendent of the police, emphasised that this data is only derived from incidents where it was especially noted that a driver using their phone was the cause.
“People are often not asked where their attention was directed before an accident happened,” he told reporters. “Few inform the police that they were looking at their phones at the time.”
On average, 600 Icelanders every year are fined by police for using their phones while driving. However, though this fine is a paltry 5,000 ISK, legislation regarding the use of fines is currently under review, and it is expected that the fine for phone driving will increase significantly.
As reported, according to a Gallup poll conducted last February for the Icelandic Transport Authority, 77% of drivers between the ages of 25 and 34 admitted to texting while driving.
Younger drivers showed slightly more caution, as only 58% of those aged 18 to 24 said they have texted behind the wheel, as did about 50% of those between 35 to 44 years of age.
In all, about 35% of all drivers said they text while driving – even though 98% of them said they believe it is wrong to do so.
According to data from the Icelandic Transport Authority, the chances of getting in a car accident triple when driving while texting, dialing, or looking at your phone. On average, drivers spend about 4.6 seconds looking at their phone when reading or sending a text – the equivalent of traversing the length of a football pitch, if travelling 90 kmh, without looking up from the phone.