The DfT has launched a ‘powerful and thought-provoking’ THINK! campaign to warn drivers of the dangers of using mobiles while driving, and the new tougher penalties which come into force today (1 Mar).
The campaign will see adverts on billboards, radio and social media, as well as a ‘hard-hitting’ video, developed in partnership with the AA Charitable Trust, which will be shown in cinemas.
THINK! has also produced stickers and other in-car merchandise to encourage motorists to put their phone away and out of reach while driving. These resources will be distributed through partnerships with driving schools and car rental companies.
The new penalties will see motorists caught using a phone while driving receive six points on their licence and a £200 fine – up from the previous three points and £100 penalty.
That means motorists caught using their mobile twice – accruing 12 points on their licence – will face a magistrates’ court appearance, disqualification from driving and fines of up to £1,000. It also means new drivers, within two years of passing their test, run the risk of having their licence revoked for a single offence.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling hopes doubling the penalties will ‘act as a strong deterrent to motorists tempted to pick up their phone’.
The new THINK! campaign includes a 30” radio advert voiced by Channel 4’s F1 presenter, Steve Jones. The advert informs listeners about the tougher penalties for using a handheld mobile phone and offers advice about where to put your phone while driving – the glove compartment.
One of the new videos, titled ‘Designated Driver – don’t text and drive’, will be used on social media. Lasting a minute, the video plays on the notion that ‘you’re twice as likely to crash text driving as you are drink driving’. The video is also available in a shorter 40 second format with subtitles.
A second ‘hard-hitting’ video tells the story of three members of the Carvin family (father and two children) whose wife/mother was killed in a collision caused by a driver who was using their mobile phone at the time.
Chris Grayling, transport secretary, said: “Our message is simple and clear: do not get distracted by your mobile phone while driving. It may seem innocent, but holding and using your phone at the wheel risks serious injury and even death to yourself and other road users.
“Doubling penalties will act as a strong deterrent to motorists tempted to pick up their phone while driving and will also mean repeat offenders could find themselves banned from our roads if they are caught twice.
“Everyone has a part to play in encouraging their family and friends not to use their phones while driving – it is as inexcusable as drink driving.”
Road Safety GB members can download the THINK! Mobile Phones Campaign Toolkit from the members’ area of this website (password protected).