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Drivers are warned on dangers of phone use

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 18, 2013

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Comments (13)

Tens of thousands of drivers across the South West have penalty points on their licence for using mobile phones or being distracted at the wheel.

The charity Brake revealed the figures as it launched a campaign to prevent appalling crashes caused by multitasking at the wheel.

It wants drivers to turn off their phones, or put them in the boot, and for people to refuse to speak on the phone to someone who's driving.

Today's campaign is being launched almost a decade after using hand-held mobiles was banned and coincides with a week-long enforcement campaign.

Joe Burns, campaign officer at Brake, said: "We're living in an age when being constantly connected is the norm. More and more of us have smartphones, and find it hard to switch off, even for a minute.

"While there are enormous benefits to this new technology, it's also posing dangerous temptations to drivers to divert their concentration away from the critical task at hand, often putting our most vulnerable road users in danger.

"Many people who wouldn't dream of drink-driving are succumbing to using their phone and other distractions while driving, oblivious that the effect can be similar and the consequences just as horrific."

Drivers can be issued with roadside fines and have points added to their licence for not having "proper control" of their vehicle and a further six drivers for not having a "full view" of the road ahead.

The WMN has previously revealed how people in Devon and Cornwall have been fined for texting or reading their mobile phone while behind the wheel, holding dogs and eating or drinking. Others have been caught writing, applying make up with both hands and rolling cigarettes.

Research by Brake revealed there were more than 30,000 drivers in the South West with points for such offences.

The figures also showed 4.5% of those drivers had six points or more for driving distracted and four in five offenders were men.

The charity's campaign is being launched at the start of Road Safety Week. It is staging events and demonstrations in schools, universities and town centres across the UK, highlighting the dangers of taking your eyes, hands or mind off the road. It is being supported by Lifeskills and Avon and Somerset Police.

PC Dave Adams, from the force's roads policing unit, said: "It is vital that people using vehicles on our road networks remain focused on safe responsible driving. We all need to remember that driving is a privilege and not a right and driving is a skill that requires our full concentration.

"Distractions either within the vehicle or elsewhere can cause drivers or riders to miss developments on the road, which effect the driving situation often resulting in poor driving or collisions".

Andy Townsend, general manager at Lifeskills, added: "Everyday, it amazes me, how many people I see using their mobile phones whilst driving.

"At Lifeskills we primarily educate primary school children about road safety issues and how to keep themselves safe. Key messages are not to distract the driver when in a car and even though the green man is showing on a crossing, don't take it for granted that vehicles will stop, as the driver might not be concentrating on the road.

"Hopefully, this campaign, with Brake and its many partners, will have the desired impact and reduce the risk."

Among those supporting Road Safety Week 2013 is Janet Garland, from Taunton, whose 25-year-old son Erik was killed in a crash in March last year.

"Erik was such a thoughtful young man, who would do anything for anyone," Mrs Garland said. "It's every parent's worst nightmare to see their child die before they do.

"Drivers have a responsibility to do everything they can to stay focused on the road, to protect themselves and others.

"That means not using your phone, or fiddling with your stereo, or driving when you're stressed or emotional, and making sure you're 100% tuned in to the road, because it can take just a second to destroy a life."

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13 comments

  • John2  |  November 27 2013, 4:26PM

    Anyone caught should be reported to the insurance company by the police, then watch their insurance go up. Have a name and shame page in the H/Express, photo and car details, especially if the vehicle shows a company name. The trouble is that all to often it is 'white van man'. Someone suggested confiscating the phone, why not confiscate the vehicle as they do for uninsured drivers. In fact if caught it should automatically invalidate the insurance.

    |   1
  • BillyBuddy  |  November 19 2013, 12:22AM

    For the sake of us all and our children the car should be banned in built up areas.

    |   -10
  • boneybonehead  |  November 18 2013, 8:25PM

    You clearly haven't read or understood anything I have said. Cars would operate unchanged in all rural and village areas.But clearly the time has come to call time on car use in the towns and cities and to promote and finance public transport and cycling. The working classes are being slowly priced out of private car ownership and inner city infrastructure investment could benefit everyone.

    |   -6
  • wringer  |  November 18 2013, 7:10PM

    boneybonehead you are clearly what your name implies. what a ludicrous and unworkable idea this is!! If you live in the back end of beyond are you expecting a bus to come and pick you up or are you expecting frail, elderly, people with prams, children to walk to the bus stop along narrow lanes. written by someone who lives in a town and needs to spend a week in the middle of nowhere to understand that without cars all you get is rural isolation. buses can never ever replace cars in remote rural areas it would be cost prohibitive and impractical. wise up bbh this is the real world for many Cornish people.

    |   4
  • boneybonehead  |  November 18 2013, 7:07PM

    It is quite clear that the car has had it's day in urban areas. The car is the problem, not the mobile phone, which has a bright future. Ban the car, not the phone.

    |   -8
  • Gabber  |  November 18 2013, 3:36PM

    Why are you hijacking a thread about mobile phones and continually highlighting pedestrianisation issues?

    |   2
  • JeremyBadger  |  November 18 2013, 3:06PM

    Probably the offenders should have their Phones and SIM cards immediately impounded and destroyed in the same way as drivers of uninsured cars have their cars impounded and destroyed.

    |   9
  • Gabber  |  November 18 2013, 11:31AM

    Banning all cars more than already is the case will accelerate online shopping! This is one reason out of town retail parks are growing in popularity - with the inevitable effect that those who can't drive are themselves finding some shops harder to get to! Banning cars from town centres is a prophecy that will only kill town centres. Heading back 'on-topic' I'm pleased to heard in the mainstream news a government comment has been made that affirms the powers that be have no plans to ban hands-free phones in cars. There is only so much in safety standards that can be governed by legislation, common sense plays a greater role.

    |   -1
  • boneybonehead  |  November 18 2013, 11:13AM

    Ideally we need to ban cars in all towns and cities. Make them purely pedestrian and cycle zones. Public transport would recieve a massive boost and investment. We would all be fitter and safer. The working class will soon be priced out of car ownership anyway, you know it makes sense.

    |   -6
  • josdave  |  November 18 2013, 9:49AM

    It's quite simple really when you're driving turn the phone off and only turn it on when you are stationary. It has been shown that hands free phones are also a risk and should be treated the same. The motor car is a very dangerous machine and should be treated accordingly.

    |   -4

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