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Drive smart Out of sight, out of mind

Charity calls for more concentration on the roads after seeing the true scale of mobile phone use. Road safety charity Brake has renewed calls for a total UK ban on using mobile phones – even hands-free – when driving, after its own survey revealed the shocking figures of drivers flouting the rules.

They are warning motorists that using a mobile phone – even through a loudspeaker or in-car hands-free system – can slow reaction times to a similar amount as drink driving.

According to the survey in collaboration with insurance company Direct Line, almost half of all motorists on the roads are risking their lives – and those of other motorists and pedestrians – by talking on their mobiles while at the wheel.

Julie Townsend, Brake deputy chief executive, said: “Use a phone at the wheel and you are taking a horrendous risk with your own life and the lives of others. Many drivers who wouldn’t dream of drink driving are using their phones, oblivious that the effect on reaction times can be similar.

Of those asked, 48 per cent of drivers admit to using their phones. What’s more, 65 per cent of those who pick up the phone actually hold the handset to their head – an offence since 2003. Smart phones are also becoming an increasing danger behind the wheel, as 21 per cent of young drivers admitted to checking emails and social network sites, going online and using apps while driving. In response, Brake has launched a campaign urging all drivers to ‘drive smart’ by putting their phones out of sight, reducing the temptation to pick it up when driving.


The Community Review Summer 2012

“We’re urging all people to drive smart, recognising that phone use at the wheel can and does destroy lives, and no call or text is ever that important. If you need to use your phone urgently, pull over somewhere safe first: It’s as simple as that.” Brake are also calling on the Government to do more to tackle phone use at the wheel, including banning hands-free phones and bringing in stiffer penalties for those caught using mobiles while driving. At the moment, drivers caught talking on a hand-held phone or texting face automatic penalties of three points on their licence

and an on-the-spot fine of £60. Police can also apply these penalties to using a hands-free system or sat-nav if they believe their use has contributed to an accident. Brake want to see higher fines and periods of disqualification introduced to deter careless and distracted driving.

Advice to drivers However much you love your phone, when you are driving you need to put it away. Texting, tweeting, emailing, taking or making a call, even just glancing at the screen: all are major distractions that put your life and the lives of others at risk. Driving is the most dangerous and complex activity most of us do on a daily basis and it requires your full concentration. Your phone can wait. Anyone who has been bereaved or seriously injured in a crash can call the Brake helpline for support on 0845 603 8570.

"Use a phone at the wheel and you are taking a horrendous risk with your own life and the lives of others."

Drive Smart