Using the campaign message of “one text or call could wreck it all”, the Cleveland Road Safety Partnership is urging people to switch off their phones when they are behind the wheel. Simon Milner, Chair of the Cleveland Casualty Reduction Group – a sub-group of the partnership, said: “Many people think writing a text is very quick and simple and they often don’t consider the dangers associated with sending a message whilst driving. “By sending just one text drivers are putting not only their own lives at risk but also the lives of other road users and pedestrians.
“Using a mobile phone whilst driving significantly increases the chance of being involved in a serious road accident and that’s why we are urging drivers to think twice and resist the temptation to send a text or to look at their mobile phones when they are behind the wheel.”
At the launch of the campaign, students from Teesside University in Middlesbrough were challenged to take a drive on a simulator whilst entering the campaign message into their phones. As well as gauging the effect of texting on their driving, they will be timed to see how long it takes them to write the text. They will also be asked to show how far they think they would have travelled at 30mph in the time it took them to text.
Acting Inspector Gary Hatton, from the Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit said: “All the research is telling us that drivers using mobile phones whilst driving are four times more likely to be involved in a crash. “Driving requires your full attention and you cannot talk or text on your phone and still concentrate on your driving. It’s a recipe for disaster.
“Despite the threat of a fine of £60 and three penalty points there are still too many drivers who are taking the risk and endangering everyone on the road. My advice would be to switch it off, or ignore it until you stop and then answer it. Better to miss a call than miss out on the rest of your life!” Last year, 1,308 drivers in Cleveland were prosecuted for using their mobile phones whilst driving.
Statistics also show that between 2006 and 2010, distraction as a result of using mobile phones was a contributory factor in 1,690 road accidents resulting in injuries, including 110 fatal accidents.
In addition, research carried out by the Institute of Advanced Motorists found that 53% of adults aged 17-24 admitted texting while driving and 24% admitted accessing e-mails and social networking sites. Using a smartphone to access social networking sites has even been found to have a greater effect on drivers’ reaction times than texting and consuming alcohol or cannabis.