U.K. Male Drivers Distracted by Provocative Posters

November 22, 2005

Whether by intelligent design or natural selection, men – at least most men – are programmed to look at women. This assures increased species propagation and the ultimate survival of the human race.

Quite naturally the more there is of the woman to look at, the more men look. So it comes as no surprise that a recent study by the U.K.’s Privilege Insurance, a leading auto and home insurer, raises questions about male driver inattention when confronted by billboards and posters featuring scantily (un)dressed females.

One of the study’s findings indicated that a five-second distraction at 60 mph often resulted in the driver traveling the length of a football field without fully concentrating.

20 to 25 percent of British men owned up to being distracted from the road when confronted with images of feminine pulchritude. Only one in ten British women, however, reported being distracted by similar images of partially unclothed men.

Several reports quoted Mark Young, an expert in transport ergonomics from Brunel University, who noted: “There is a growing body of concern about the lack of any coherent strategy for arranging ‘roadside furniture.'” Young thinks the risks are underestimated and urges additional studies in order to assess them.

Privilege is part of The Royal Bank of Scotland plc, which also includes Britain’s biggest auto insurer, Direct Line. It was launched in 1994 as a non-standard auto insurer, but has since expanded to include the London area, Executive and over-fifties drivers.

Editor’s note: A comparative study should be undertaken in France where the billboards and posters featuring women are usually even more revealing than they are in the U.K. Are a greater number of Frenchmen distracted by this type of roadside advertising than their English counterparts? Or, are they in fact more blasé about it, and thus less distracted?

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