Reaching for your smart phone when behind the wheel? Don’t go there!

With smart phones making access to the internet and social media even easier, a new campaign warning drivers not to use their mobile phones is particularly important and timely.

All-Wales Anti-Mobile Phone Driving Campaign RoSPA Wales

Don’t be tempted to answer your mobile phone while driving – switch it off before stepping behind the wheel!

Four Welsh police forces have teamed up to launch the All-Wales Anti-Mobile Phone Driving Campaign this month (October), which sees enforcement patrols stepped up to catch motorists who can’t resist their mobile phones when behind the wheel.

The two-week campaign is welcomed by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) as drivers who use a mobile phone, whether hand-held or hands-free, are four times more likely to crash – injuring or killing themselves and/or other people.

Worryingly, in a similar enforcement scheme in Wales, in 2011, officers detected 1,000 mobile phone driving offences during a two week campaign. Dyfed Powys force area issued 429 notices, South Wales Police recorded 274 offenders, North Wales caught 168 drivers using mobile phones, and Gwent gave out 129 fixed penalty notices.

It will be interesting to see how this year’s figures compare in light of ever-advancing technology. Smart phones mean that drivers are not just making brief calls or texts anymore, but also using the internet, emails, Facebook and Twitter.

With so many more things available for you to do on a smart phone, drivers are spending longer periods of time updating a social media status and the like, when they should be concentrating on the road. More than ever, people are inclined to have their mobile phone clamped to their hand, and that is making driving with a mobile phone much more of a danger and a road safety issue.

The facts are stark – mobile phones are a significant distraction and substantially increase the risk of a driver crashing. Research shows that motorists using a mobile phone fail to see road signs, take longer to brake and stop, are much less aware of what’s happening on the road around them and do not maintain a correct lane position or steady speed.

All-Wales Anti-Mobile Phone Driving Campaign RoSPA Wales

The facts are stark – mobile phones are a significant distraction and substantially increase the risk of a driver crashing.

Inspector Lee Ford, of Gwent Police’s road policing unit, which is leading the All-Wales Anti-Mobile Phone Driving Campaign, in partnership with Road Safety Wales, is advising drivers to switch off their mobile phones before they drive and pick up any missed calls or texts after the journey, when it is safe and convenient.

Insp Ford added that “if you need to use the phone when driving, then stop at the first safe opportunity”, warning that the consequences of a momentary lapse in concentration while driving could be devastating to other drivers and pedestrians.

With many still blatantly texting and dialling in the driver’s seat, I sometimes feel a lot of motorists believe they will never get caught. That is why a timely reminder, like this new enforcement campaign in Wales, can stop drivers getting complacent and make them think twice about picking up their phone.

There are three penalty points and a £60 fine at stake, which for many drivers with points already on their licence, could tot up to mean the difference between continuing to drive and being banned from the roads.

What we need is for drivers to consider the consequences and weigh up just how important taking that call or updating a social media status really is.

For more facts and advice on this issue, visit www.rospa.com/roadsafety/adviceandinformation/driving/mobilephoneswhiledriving/.

Michelle Harrington, RoSPA’s road safety manager for Wales

One Comment to “Reaching for your smart phone when behind the wheel? Don’t go there!”

  1. I think this is becoming the biggest danger on the roads today. I know a lot of haulage companies are deploying initiatives to crack down on phone use by their drivers whilst driving. I also think the fine is far too low!

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