Mobile phone risk ‘increasing rapidly’

15.20 | 4 April 2011 | | 3 comments

The potential risk from motorists using mobile phones while driving is increasing rapidly, according to a report from the World Health Organisation.

This increasing risk to road safety is due to the exponential growth in the use of mobile phones more generally in society, claims the report ‘Mobile Phone Use: a growing problem for distracted drivers’.

According to the report studies from a number of countries suggest that the number of motorists using mobile phones while driving has increased over the past 5–10 years from 1% to 11%. Studies also suggest that drivers using mobile phones are approximately four times more likely to be involved in a crash.

Using mobile phones can cause drivers to take their eyes off the road, their hands off the wheel and their minds off the road and the surrounding situation. It is this type of ‘cognitive distraction’ which appears to have the biggest impact on driving behaviour, claims the report.

The report concludes with some of the countermeasures that could be put in place to tackle this emerging problem, including:

  • Setting up data collection systems to assess the magnitude of the problem.
  • Adopting and enforcing legislation.
  • Encouraging policies to address mobile phone use among employers with large fleets.
  • Running campaigns to increase public awareness about the risks of the behaviour.

Click here to read the full report.


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    It seems to me the technology and the will is already there; but the law isn’t. Most people have phones which take pictures and would be happy to send in their pictures (taken not whilst driving!!!) to the police of people they’ve clearly caught on the phone whilst driving and with their no. plate included. How difficult is that? And if it is legal and enforceable – then I for one would like to know what the email is to send these pictures in to. I would have a gleeful day just sitting on a wall snapping these idiots if it would help get them to not use their phone or ultimately to not drive at all & save some lives. It’s so commonplace and I see it all too often outside where I live which is near an infants school, where they are on the phone and speeding at the same time.

    Jennifer House, Sheffield
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    No Roy, you are not alone in your experience. Distraction, lack of reading the road, and pure selfishness of actions are prime causes of accidents. This much has been understood for decades, and ignored for decades. As a courier for over twenty years, driver and rider for over forty seven, distraction – and mostly at lower speeds, is the cause of many accidents. I used to support hands free, but know full well the attention taken from the road that is channeled into taking a conversation substantially reduces safety on the road.

    Is more technology to enforce current or future legislation a solution? I doubt it. Stronger enforcement of existing legislation? Isn’t working – unless officers replace cameras. Even passengers talking in a car is enough to distract the driver – no wonder half cab double deck buses were amongst the safest vehicles on the road!

    The key must lay in education, an area where much has yet to be improved judging by the contempt many use when on the roads after the ‘pass’ has been achieved. Even so, have we not got some of the most crowded, and safest road network in the World? Statistics say we have.

    Derek Reynolds, St Albans.
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    I wonder if these things only happen to me. Riding home last night on my motorcycle, I noticed a car travelling at 31mph in the outside lane of a two lane dual-carriageway. The limit is 40. The female driver was tail-gated by a white van and a scooter rider who was craning his neck to see what was causing the delay. At the traffic lights I drew along side this car and noticed that the driver was having a vigourous conversation despite being alone in the vehicle. She was on a hands-free mobile. The lights changed and she pulled away slowly reaching 30mph. The limit was still 40. As she approached a roundabout, she braked very early and stopped to check an empty roundabout. She remained stationary to the annoyance of the white van driver who, without signalling, changed lanes to the nearside lane to get passed the woman on the mobile. He nearly collided with the scooter who had decided to do the same thing for the same reason. Both van and scooter went into the roundabout and pulled away. The female driver now decided to enter the roundabout but had waited until a car was coming round to leave at the exit on our left. The near-miss resulted in horn blowing and gesturing by the driver of the other car. It was to no avail because the women was still engaged in her vigourous conversation.

    May be she was talking to the Queen making sure her wedding invitation was in the post. Had she had a collision I would have made a right royal witness I can tell you.

    Roy Buchanan, Sutton
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