Mobile phone usage – road safety

19 01 2010

What do we think about drivers using their mobile phones?

Nick Stilwell

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2 responses

7 04 2010
Ian Kemeys

The law is probably adequate but enforcing it is the problem. The number of times I wish I had my camera to hand when walking in Bedford town centre and it were possible to send an image of an offender direct to a police number for instant reporting of the offence.

19 01 2010
James Bailey

Still on the phone while driving! – should we be doing more to stop mobile phone use while driving?

A recent study by TRL has found that mobile phone use is higher today than in 2006, just before increased penalties were introduced; £60 fine and 3 points. By observing 14,000 vehicles at various sites throughout London, they found that 2.8% of drivers were using their mobile while driving, compared to 2.6% in 2006. This is despite the fact that in the year following the introduction of these tougher penalties (2007), it was found that only 1.4% of drivers were using their mobiles.

So why, since 2007, have we seen an increase in mobile phone use to higher than 2006 levels? One reason could be that, with the introduction of tougher penalties, a well publicised campaign was released in 2006/7. However, since then, the government has focused its publicity campaigns on other issues.

Another reason could be that some people are simply addicted to their phones. It’s hard to believe that just over 10 years ago most of us didn’t have a mobile phone. But now that most of us do, we tend to think of them as a necessity. In addition, a lot of people that lead busy lives (or at least perceive that they do) consider the time they spend driving as the only free time available to them; an ideal time in which to make a phone call.

How then, do we reverse this trend reported by the TRL study? Tougher penalties? Reinvigorate the Government run publicity campaigns? Provide discounted or Government subsidised hands-free kits? Some have said that the Police powers to issue penalties for this particular offence should be shared with Police Community Support Officers, or even Civil Enforcement Officers (Traffic Wardens).

Personally, I think that more needs to be done to educate people on the potential consequences of using a mobile while driving, through extensive publicity campaigns. Of course though, the publicity coverage of other issues, such as; speed limit adherence, drinking and driving, sustainable travel etc, has to be balanced with this particular issue.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8407142.stm
http://www.trl.co.uk/news/latest_news/london_mobile_phone_and_seat_belt_survey_2009.htm

James Bailey

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