Road Safety News
 

New study suggests one in three drivers use mobile

Tuesday 2nd June 2015

Kent County Council's road safety team has launched an awareness campaign on the back of a study which suggests that a third of drivers in the county use their mobile phones while driving - despite knowing it is dangerous and illegal.

The road safety team interviewed 303 drivers, with 33% of those aged under 35 years (21% of all drivers) admitting to using their phone while driving to text or use apps; and 37% of under 35s (27% of all drivers) saying they had taken a hand-held call while driving. Both statistics are higher for those aged 17-24 years.

Other findings included: 59% of respondents admitted that mobile phones were a distraction to drivers; while only 4% said it was acceptable to take a hand-held call while driving, 27% admitted to doing so; 33% of respondents aged 17-34 years admitted to using their phone to text or use apps whilst driving - but only 3% said this is an acceptable act.

The campaign utilises a mix of TV and radio advertising, Facebook and YouTube, bus backs and petrol nozzles, and roadside variable message signs (VMS) to draw comparison with times that most people wouldn't dream of using a mobile phone, and asks ‘So why do it while driving?’

The road safety team’s awareness campaign will coincide with countywide enforcement activity by Kent Police throughout June.

Steve Horton, Kent’s road safety team leader, said, "Drivers using mobile phones make the roads less safe for us all.

"It's a fallacy to believe we can concentrate on two things at once. The reality is one activity will dominate the other. It's not simply splitting your attention 50:50, it's more like 95:5 with the task seeming the most important taking over. With drivers using a phone that means the call / text / situation update completely takes over from the driving.

"There are plenty of situations when using a mobile phone would be unacceptable or plain dangerous - would you seriously want to hold a conversation on the phone whilst using dangerous machinery?

"We've found that a large number of drivers say they know using a mobile at the wheel is dangerous and unacceptable, yet many continue to do so. This campaign brings together the education message with an increased likelihood of being caught - key motivators to changing this behaviour.”

The campaign is supported by Kent Fire and Rescue Service, who will use a range of events and activities, including Facebook and other social media content, to help spread the message.

 

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Dulcis in fundo

Forget to mention - 35% of those killed were not wearing a seatbelt - which typically meant that they exited from the vehicle at the time of the collision.
Elaine, Northern Ireland

Agree (1) | Disagree (0)
+1

Elaine
Very relevant. And its pleasing to hear someone from the biking community making the latter case as well.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

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+1

Fully agree with your 5th para Elaine, re-vehicle performance - it needed saying.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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0

Just a couple of observations - I am in the process of completing a study on car/van/truck/tractor occupant fatalities in Northern Ireland between 2011 and 2012. I analysed 48 cases (with 51 fatalities, that's equal to 77% of all 4 wheeled vehicle fatalities during this period. In n.29/48 cases, the driver responsible for the collision died as a result of injuries received. The highest proportion of drivers killed was between the age of 17 and 25 years (31%).
Overwhelmingly the cause of the collision was loss of control. There was no evidence provided that a mobile phone was being used at the time of the collision. There were n.10 cases in which the driver was intoxicated either with alcohol or drugs (this may be underestimated as I am still waiting for more details). In any event, the highest proportion of fatalities is in the age range of 21 to 30 years (25%), followed by the age range of 61 to 71 years (23%).

Ultimately there is a simple solution with regards mobile phone use and that is simply to make the offence criminal - i.e. equal to dangerous driving and it would allow police to take the appropriate action. However this is not the problem - the problem appears to be that young people in particular don't know how to drive.

In Northern Ireland part of the solution is the introduction of graduated driving licences with log books with quite a few proposed restrictions which may help to stop young drivers from killing themselves (and others), but more importantly it would give them a good start in terms of being a responsible road user.

I would however like to raise an issue that everybody seems to ignore and unless this is addressed - we're just going round in circles. The car manufacturers (and I would extend this to motorcycle manufacturers) have a lot to answer for. In terms of cars - let's put aside the fact that your average 1.3 litre car can achieve speeds of well over 100 mph - why? If the fastest a car is allowed to go, is 70 mph why build cars that appear to be intended for racing - e.g. in the case of a particular popular car for young men – top speed 155 mph - 0 to 60 in 4.5 seconds!

Then of course there is the issue of building cars as an extension of the lounge room with all the creature comforts.

Until such time as "road safety" experts, politicians and the good ole huddled masses accept that the point of driving a car at least, is to get from point A to point B – nothing will be achieved, nothing will change and we will be here having discussions that are for all intents and purposes – a waste of time.
Elaine, Northern Ireland

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+3

I wish more people would join in! If there is hard evidence to counter some claim or observation I have made then let's hear it. We are here to learn after all.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

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+2

It would be so much better, rather than relying upon editorial intervention, if contributors could show more self restraint. Make your point, allow others to make theirs, and resist the temptation to become embroiled in personal exchanges with a n other contributor. Let the readers make up their own minds on the strength of the argument you put.
Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety News

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+7

I appreciate your point Iain. I too wish others would contribute as well - it's as though members of the road safety profession have no interest in their own subject sometimes, judging by the small number of contributors and the not much larger number of readers who can be bothered to support or not support a viewpoint. As far as the exchange below is concerned, if a contributor rather frivolously claims he has the answer to this particular problem (or any other road safety issue for that matter) but then appears not to, it is frustrating and probably puts people off reading anything else. Perhaps the editor should be more stringent and only allow comments with some substance and validity although that is subjective anyway.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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-2

The answer Hugh is prediction, understand prediction and you can achieve anything you want including reducing mobile phone use. Surely a one word answer is simple enough?
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

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-2

If I may join the debate, how is the tone and content of the bilateral discussion below furthering the purpose of this bulletin board and encouraging others to become involved in commenting on stories? Could the protagonists not email each other directly without all users of this facility having to wade through their exchanges - or would this somehow diminish the fun that they seem to take in trying to belittle each other in front of an audience?
Iain Greenway, Northern Ireland

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+11

So you didn't really have the answer at all Duncan! Just an idea that there may be 'lots of people' out there who are interested and therefore may wish to read up on it. Not quite the same is it?
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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+3

Although you may not read the research papers Hugh, others might and that can only be a good thing. There are lots of people out there that really want to learn about the how's and why's of mobile phone use and how to prevent it whilst driving. An understanding of the human brain therefore might help them to develop effective strategies that can go some way towards solving the problem.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

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-3

On the other hand Duncan, I did predict that you would refer me to yet more research papers on prediction, so I must be getting better at it.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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+4

It certainly is an answer and a good one at that Hugh, but I did question whether you wanted to know what it was.

Luckily for all those poor road accident victims of the future the cognitive neuroscientists know that prediction is the key to everything (including preventing mobile phone use) so I'll stick with what they know to help us begin to fix the problems.

Here's a couple of papers from our research library if you would like to find out a bit more about prediction.

http://www.fil.ion.ucl.ac.uk/~karl/Whatever%20next.pdf

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2904053/
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

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-5

Cheers Duncan...clear as mud. I failed to predict that your response would not actually be an answer at all.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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+8

It's simple Hugh, the better people are at prediction the less likely they are to use a mobile phone. The more time they spend operating at the optimum prediction level the less likely they are to use a mobile phone. The more predictable elements they know about in a scene the less likely they are to use a mobile phone.

Constrain them from operating at the optimum prediction level the more likely they are to use a mobile phone. Don't bother to explain to them about prediction and the more likely they are to use a mobile phone. Don't bother to tell them about affordances and other predictable elements and the more likely they are to use a mobile phone.

The alternative of course is to punish them until they comply, but as we see from this report that isn't working very well is it?
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (3) | Disagree (11)
-8

Yes Duncan, don't keep it to yourself having teased us with knowing the solution. Please explain how the number of people using mobile phones whilst driving can be reduced, which you described as a simple matter once you had ascertained the reasons why they do it. If viable and successful, it could be extended to all other driving faults.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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+4

I am increasingly of the opinion that the "agree/disagree" facility is an unwanted diversion. Perhaps more would engage in comment if it were removed.

As to what the brain does and why, surely a simple solution to mobile phones in vehicles is tackled through self discipline: If it rings - ignore it. Call back when parked up somewhere. I do.
Derek Reynolds, Salop.

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-5

Of course I know the answer Hugh, but do you really want to know what it is?
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

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-4

Interesting to see that some seem to disagree with comments. Are they disagreeing with lack of joined up thinking, or that there is no new information in the report. Shame they do not add comments.
Keith

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+3

"When you understand brains the reasons why people choose to use mobile phones when they do then becomes abundantly clear. Once you know those reasons it then becomes a simple matter to reduce the number of drivers using mobile phones..." Absolutely brilliant Duncan. So do you know the answer or not? Do tell.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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+9

Well said Keith!

To solve a problem you first have to understand the problem and that's where everything falls to bits. To understand the mobile phone use issue it is essential that you first understand the human brain, how it works and why we have one. When you understand brains the reasons why people choose to use mobile phones when they do then becomes abundantly clear. Once you know those reasons it then becomes a simple matter to reduce the number of drivers using mobile phones which I think is the whole point of the exercise. When you have a 35% error rate as detailed in this report then it needs far more clever thinking than has currently been applied.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (4) | Disagree (8)
-4

Is there no joined up thinking between organisations that undertake these studies. Every week another organisation seems to commission and publish a report on use of mobile phones. The information is nothing new we all appreciate it's a probem including the perpetrators. Perhaps the time and effort is better sepnt in looking at how to overcome the issue.
Keith

Agree (12) | Disagree (3)
+9