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.