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Why it pays to smarten up your act

It's been a good week for ...

nagging mothers

Ryan Kitching literally cleaned up after his mother persuaded him – over the course of a fortnight – to tidy his room. The 19-year-old from Penicuik, Midlothian, unearthed a winning lottery ticket from February 8. It had five winning numbers and a bonus ball and was worth £52,981 – a tidy sum indeed.

"My room needed a good clean," admitted the teenager. "My mum had been nagging me for a couple of weeks." Justification at last for the nagging of teenagers, although I suspect most mothers are just pleased to find the carpet after a bedroom blitz.

It's been a bad week for ... smartphones

Astonishing news: using your smartphone to access Facebook while driving is rather dangerous. The intrepid Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) made the findings after extensive research in conjunction with the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL).

They took a group of young drivers, gave each a smartphone and asked them to access Facebook while behind the wheel of the TRL's DigiCar driving simulator.

Their report claims that using smartphones while driving poses a greater risk than drink-driving. Reaction times were slowed by around 38% while key events during the simulation were often missed. Participants also found themselves unable to maintain a central lane position, or to respond as quickly to changes in speed by the car in front.

Previous studies on the effects of drink-driving showed a reaction time reduction of 12.5% at the legal limit, while cannabis consumption slowed reactions by 37.4%.

The IAM also found that the figures are remarkably close to a previous study into the effects of sending or receiving text messages while behind the wheel, which showed reaction times slowing by 37.4%.

None of this comes as much of a surprise. Why anyone would contemplate on concentrating on anything but the road while behind the wheel of a weapon on wheels is beyond conjecture. But the shocking figures from the IAM show that a whopping 24% of 17 to 24-year-olds have admitted to using smartphones for email and social networking services while driving.

Smart phones – thick drivers.

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