Has there been a rise in serious accidents and fatalities on the A9 as a result of distracted drivers?

Police Scotland, a key member of the A9 Safety Group are indicating that a number of collisions over the past two years on the A9 may have been caused by a high degree of driver fatigue or distraction.

What is the biggest cause of distraction for drivers using the A9?

The influx of mobile phones, social media and ‘in car’ technology have had a significant impact on drivers being distracted at the wheel.

New research[1] commissioned by the A9 Safety Group reveals that thirty per cent of people have seen someone using social media while driving and one in five people have witnessed selfies being taken behind the wheel.

Sixty eight per cent of Scots have noticed someone texting behind the wheel and a massive 89 per cent have seen drivers talking on a hand-held mobile phone.

Further research shows that younger (16 -35 year olds), tech savvy drivers use their mobile phones more frequently, with over a third admitting to occasionally sending texts while driving and one in ten using social media behind the wheel.

One in five Scots would expect someone who is driving to reply to their text and 39 per cent of drivers admit to adjusting their sat nav while driving.

How does using a mobile phone/in car technology affect your driving?

Hands free or not, mobile phone usage affects all aspects of driving and has an impact on your position in the road, speed, observation and reaction times.

Using a mobile phone while driving is a complicated task and involves a number of different of physical, auditory, visual and cognitive resources - e.g. locating the phone, answering a call, finding a contact, dialling a number, reading or writing a text, checking and responding to social media posts, searching the internet, changing music, adjusting the sat nav, all of which can be distracting[2].

According to the IAM RoadSmart’s and the Transport Research Laboratory’s report - ‘The battle for attention’- texting engages three of the five key areas of distraction to a ‘high’ level cognitive, visual and manual. Whilst a mobile phone conversation will engage three of the five areas of distraction to a ‘high’ level cognitive, audible and exposure time[3].

What is the law when it comes to using mobile phones while driving?

Serious accidents and fatalities caused by a driver being distracted by a mobile phone are completely avoidable.

A driver must at all times be in proper control of their vehicle. If you use your phone while driving and you could be fined £200, get six points or lose your licence. In more serious cases, you could be prosecuted for careless or dangerous driving.

What is being done to tackle distracted driving on the A9?

The A9 Safety Group has launched a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of looking at or using a mobile phone while driving. Using the strapline ‘Looks Can Kill’, the campaign highlights that you are four times more likely to crash if using a mobile phone while driving.

The campaign is aimed at all drivers in Scotland using the A9 route, particularly during the holiday season. It aims to tackle the rise in serious accidents and fatalities caused by drivers being distracted.

The campaign, which will run across radio, online and at public areas along the route, will highlight the clear dangers of both looking at and/ or using a mobile phone while driving.


  1. Source: ScotPulse, adults 16+, Scotland. Sample size: 1,085. Dates of fieldwork: 13-15th June 2017
  2. IAM RoadSmart
  3. IAM RoadSmart’s and the Transport Research Laboratory’s report - ‘The battle for attention’