Road Safety News
 

Mobile phone motorists face grilling from pupils

Friday 5th November 2010

People caught using their mobile phones while driving in Knowsley have been made to meet the children who could have been their victims.

The motorists had been caught using their mobiles while driving near St Aidan’s primary in Huyton. They were offered the choice of points on their licence and a fine or a grilling by children in the school.

The drivers were also made to watch a DVD featuring parents who had lost children in similar circumstances and to undertake a simulated drive while listening to voices on headphones.

The exercise was a joint initiative by Knowsley’s road safety team and Merseyside Police.

Zoe McAllister, who was caught using her phone and opted to face the pupils, said: “This really brings it home – I’ve got children myself and felt awful listening to those parents talking about how they felt losing theirs in a road accident.

“You just don’t think ahead and you’re rushing around and you decide to answer that call but now I know why that is such a bad idea. I won’t be doing it again.”

Daniel Swift, who was also caught using his phone, said: “I’ve got a young boy myself and couldn’t imagine anything worse than losing him.

“I was really nervous facing the children’s panel but I think the whole experience has made a difference to me.

“It’s made me realise that even taking a call on a hands free set is distracting. It only takes a few minutes to pull over and that’s what I’ll be doing from now on.”

One of the pupils on the panel, 11-year-old Joseph, said: “I think some of the drivers thought this was going to be a breeze but when we got talking to them they got scared.

“Maybe that’s because they think kids can’t be serious but we are serious.”

Sergeant Paul Mountford, from Road Policing, said: "The last campaign where we worked in partnership with a school and Knowsley's road safety team about speeding was very successful and we hope this will have a similar impact.”

For more information contact Jackie Rand from the Knowsley road safety team, or call the Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council's communication department on 0151 443 3063.

 

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Derek does make some valid points. Young people should be taught how to be safe pedestrians - this is exactly what road safety professionals do. Education delivers positive results. Both the adults and the children will benefit from this initiative. It will help drivers reflect on the error of their ways and the children will benefit from their involvement. They will appreciate the dangers of using a mobile phone whilst driving - good to get the message across at an early age. The young ones are then able to pass the message to their peer group and their own parents. Networking is effective in delivering the message. This is an activity where all participants and the wider community benefit.

There is a difference between using a hands-free mobile phone and talking to your passenger. If the unfolding situation ahead demands more of the drivers attention, the passenger may see what's happening and keep quiet, or the driver has the option to 'tune them out' (not so easy when in conversation with someone on a hands free mobile phone). When using a hands free mobile phone the drivers mind will go to another place. The driver will visualise the person and the details of the conversation - this does not have to happen consciously; this use of the 'minds eye' diverts a considerable amount of attention away from the driving task. The person on the other end of the phone is remote from the immediate traffic environment and doesn't know what events are unfolding around the vehicle. International research - crossover studies - have shown that there is a greatly increased risk of a collision when using a mobile phone, including when using hands free kit.
Mark, Wiltshire

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It may well look like trial by committee but these drivers had a choice and opted for it!! Sometimes we don't give children enough credit and even with their lack of years I'm sure it was a worthwhile learning exercise for themselves and event for their school, the police, Knowsley road safety and oh.....the drivers themselves for actually taking the time to face the children and not getting any points on their licence. Win-Win all round I would say!
Joe, Sefton

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The Committee is sitting. The Committee is judging on something they have never had any experience of - driving.

This is emotional blackmail and child indoctrination of the most despicable sort. How to create a society which attacks itself from within.

The entire road safety lobby should distance itsef from such activities, and concentrate on educating not just drivers, but children and their parents too. "You just don't think ahead" claimed Zoe McAllister, and she answered a call - wrong decision. Just as wrong as the young mother launching her offspring laden buggy into a road space away from a crossing, and without adequate attention to approaching traffic. THIS is where children are educated - bad habits costs lives.

We can all make such decisions, and answering mobile phone calls on the move whilst driving is a no-brainer. Don't do it - or don't drive. Hands-free is no more distracting than a passenger talking, but bus passengers are notified that they must not distract the driver whilst driving. My wife does not stop talking to me whilst she drives - should she face the childrens committee? - Or should I take the bus?

Should earphones and MP3 players be banned from being listened to whilst walking to school and work? Our natural senses are provided to protect us from danger. Numb, or distract them and we are in danger - whether driving or walking. Does the committee understand these things? The 11yr old states they are serious. Can we see some serious attention from such pupils crossing the roads safely? From personal observation locally, Lemmings spring to mind.

Is this education, or retribution? Are the accused giving politically correct answers until the 'next time'?

Who wins?
Derek Reynolds, Herts.

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