Commissioned by Interpolis, SWOV conducted a questionnaire study into the mobile phone use in Dutch traffic. This study will be carried out on an annual basis for a period of five years. This provides the opportunity to map out trends and developments in phone use in traffic. This annual questionnaire study provides insight into phone use in traffic by drivers, cyclists, light-moped riders and pedestrians. In this initial Barometer year 4201 respondents aged 18 to 80 years old and 262 children aged 12 to 17 years old from all over the Netherlands participated in the study.
The Barometer 2017 indicates that 65% of the Dutch population occasionally use their phone while participating in traffic, while 76% report to consider their own use of the mobile phone in traffic to be dangerous. Although this suggests a reasonable awareness of the hazards of phone use while participating in traffic; the phone is still used extensively.
A number of factors appear to be predictive for the extent of phone use in traffic. These are age, custom behaviour (except for light-moped riders), self-efficacy, how often one participates in traffic, the social norm and the degree of risk perception. For cyclists, light-moped riders and drivers the trust in their own task competence is the main predictor for phone use. For pedestrians their phone use habits are the most important predictor.
The results for the group Children (12-17 years old) are striking. Children use their phone more frequently during traffic participation than adults. In addition, children, for example, have stronger habitual behaviour and lower risk perception, which both appear to be related with the extent of phone use. All found connections related to phone use by children are unfavourable for road safety. Therefore – and because children are the adults of the future – it is recommendable to specifically focus extra attention for phone use in traffic on the group Children.
Another notable finding is how often participants believe they use their phone in traffic. 35% of the Dutch population say they never do, 65% say they use their phone occasionally. These percentages have been determined by detailed enquiries about various phone-related activities. However, when with one single direct question asks about their frequency of phone use in traffic many more respondents indicate that they never use the phone. This suggests that respondents underestimate how frequently they use their phone. This discrepancy offers an interesting starting point for measures and policies.