A new campaign from THINK! challenges the misconception that a quick glance at your phone won’t hurt by highlighting how much a driver can miss in just a couple of seconds.
“At 30mph a car travels 100 ft in 2.3 seconds,” states the video. “You miss more than you think when you glance down at your phone.”
In March 2017, the penalties for mobile phone use at the wheel were increased to 6 points and £200. However, the RAC Report on Motoring 2017 saw 23 per cent of drivers admit to using a handheld mobile at the wheel to make or take a call in the past 12 months, while 12 per cent admitted to checking texts, email or social media.
THINK! cites research published in the BMJ which found that you are four times more likely to be in a crash if you use your phone (even when using it hands-free) and an IAM RoadSmart study which found that reaction times are two times slower if you text and drive than if you drink drive.
However, Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s Head of Advocacy and Campaigns, said that awareness campaigns alone were not enough.
“Whatever your thoughts on the video might be, telling people to put their phone away while driving is the right message. However, it is not enough to tell people to put their phones away if there is no fear of being caught and little chance of losing your licence.
“The Government’s famous “Don’t drink and drive” campaign combined public awareness messaging with a tangible threat of being caught and with a real punishment. If our Government is truly serious about tackling the dangers of mobile phone use at the wheel, then it needs to introduce penalties which deter, such as driver bans, and moreover reversing the downward trend in our roads policing by making it a national priority.”
Adding to the evidence against hands-free use of phones at the wheel is new research by The Open University and the University of Sussex which found that drivers using phones in this way may react to fewer than half the hazards identified by undistracted drivers.
Kevin Clinton, Head of Road Safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said: “There’s a significant distraction risk involved with hands-free mobile phones. Ideally, when the mobile phone law was introduced, it would have covered hands-free mobile phones and made them illegal to use. However, the practical issues of enforcing it meant that it was not feasible to do so.
“We think the law should include hands-free phones. Although it is very difficult for the police to detect drivers using hands-free phones just by observation, they can see if a person’s driving is affected because they are distracted, and for more serious crashes or offences, phone records can be checked.”