Drivers are being urged to make an online pledge to not use their handheld mobile phone while driving, as part of a new campaign by the RAC.
Launched yesterday (1 Mar) to coincide with the doubling of penalties for the offence, BePhoneSmart.uk aims to end the ‘epidemic of handheld phone use that currently afflicts the country’.
The pledge website is central to the campaign, which has the backing of a host of stakeholders including Road Safety GB, the DfT’s THINK! campaign and IAM RoadSmart.
In pledging to Be Phone Smart, drivers make a promise to never use a handheld phone when driving or while stopped in traffic. They also commit to keeping their focus firmly on the road ahead, for everyone’s safety.
The RAC has for some while been lobbying on the issue of illegal handheld mobile phone use, including highlighting the scale of the problem as part of its 2016 Report on Motoring.
In the report, published in September 2016, 26% of respondents admitted to checking texts, emails and social media while driving, rising to 47% while the vehicle was stationary but with the engine still running.
A fifth (19%) said they text or post messages while driving, 14% said they take photos and video, and 31% admit to using a handheld phone for phone calls while driving.
Pete Williams, the RAC’s road safety spokesperson, said: “We recognise that tackling a problem as complex as the UK’s mobile phone one was going to require a huge amount of effort.
“Tougher laws combined with targeted enforcement by police forces and a sustained package of education telling drivers about the risks of driving distracted are all crucial.
“At the same time, encouraging motorists to take personal responsibility for their actions – and to really think about the relationship they have with their smartphone when they get in the driver’s seat – needs to be at the heart of a campaign to change their behaviour.
“We created BePhoneSmart.uk so that drivers can take a positive step by committing to not using a handheld phone – quite simply, to make an online promise to keep within the law, to keep their focus on the road ahead, and to share the message on to other people that they know.
“Choosing to use a handheld phone at the wheel is a personal decision, and so is choosing to give up the habit. The more individual drivers, businesses and other organisations we can get making the promise, the greater motivation others will have to change their behaviour – and together the roads can be made a safer place.”
Want to know more about mobile phones and road safety?
Key facts and summaries of research reports – visit the Road Safety Observatory
Online library of research and reports etc – visit the Road Safety Knowledge Centre