HPL Motors calls all ‘smartphone zombies’

Many people are getting distracted by technology whilst behind the wheel, research conducted by used car specialists HPL Motors has found. According to surveys conducted by the Manchester-based company, more than one in five people admitted to using a non-hands-free mobile phone to take a call or text whilst driving. A second survey also showed that more than one in 10 people had listened to music through headphones when driving.

Commenting on the research, HPL Motors Managing Director Jonathan Herman said; “Despite the laws in place to prohibit the use of mobile phones at the wheel, and the hands-free technology that allows us to avoid this, our data shows that people are still taking risks. With the rise of social media and the world being constantly connected, the temptation to reach for our mobile phones whilst driving is greater than ever. Our data shows that it’s not just mobile phones; people are also listening to music through headphones, which can be extremely dangerous as it blocks out all external noise.”


The findings by HPL Motors correlate with a poll conducted by the AA, which found that pedestrians were becoming equally distracted by their smartphones. This growing phenomenon has been observed all over the world, with a new word being coined to describe them – ‘smombies’ or ‘smartphone zombies’.

The poll found that 72% of drivers will often see pedestrians step into the road while looking at their mobile phone, with a further 68% reporting that they see pedestrians wearing headphones as they attempt to cross a busy road.

This documented rise in the number of people becoming distracted by technology has led to some countries taking extraordinary measures to prevent accidents and injuries.

  • In Germany, the cities of Augsburg and Cologne have installed traffic lights on the ground at tram crossings to cater for those who are looking down at their phones.
  • In 2014 the Chinese city of Chongqing installed a ‘mobile phone sidewalk’.
  • Antwerp, Belgium have followed suit, with a ‘text walking lane’ to try and avoid people bumping into one another.

Jonathan Herman added: “Whilst it’s great to see cities taking the initiative to try and stop pedestrians becoming injured, we must still focus on education, both for drivers and people walking on the street. The risks of using a mobile phone whilst driving, and when crossing the street, need to be constantly communicated, particularly as the technology becomes far easier to access.”

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