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Driver distraction

   Driver distraction

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), welcomes the news that police have caught thousands of motorists using their mobile phones and breaking other traffic laws using innovative measures. The distracted drivers were detected by undercover officers driving unmarked HGVs. Police have also been known to station covert officers on double-decker buses.

Buses and HGVs provide police with an elevated position to observe and film those flouting the law on motorways and A-roads as part of ‘Operation Tramline’ – a joint venture between the police and Highways England.

In 2018, more than 3,500 drivers were caught driving whilst being distracted by devices. In one  shocking example, a haulage worker was observed making a payment to his credit card whilst driving a lorry.

Drivers are banned from using hand held mobiles when behind the wheel, even if the vehicle is stationary in traffic. To avoid the temptation of using your phone stow it away in the glove box..

The results of ‘Operation Tramline’ have revealed the scale of the UK’s distracted-driving problem. In 2017, 33 people were killed and 90 were seriously injured in road accidents where the driver was using their mobile phone at the wheel. Driver distraction is persistently one of the major causes of collisions and accidents on UK roads.

RoSPA is hopeful that new enforcement measures like those in used in ‘Operation Tramline’, alongside tougher sentences for using mobiles while driving introduced in 2017, will help reduce accidents and fatalities on the road. Penalties for breaking the law have been steadily increased since March 2017, and now stand at a £200 fine and six penalty points. For new drivers this will mean an automatic ban.

However, more enforcement and punitive measures alone are not enough to stem distracted driving – a cultural change is needed too. We need to move towards living in a society whereby distracted driving is as taboo as drink-driving. To this end, RoSPA would like to see a ban on the use of ‘hands-free’ phone sets in vehicles.

A National Safety Council white paper states that drivers using hands-free mobile phones have a tendency to ‘look at’ but not ‘see’ objects, with estimates indicating that drivers using a mobile phone look but fail to see up to 50 per cent of the information in their driving environment.

This is known as ‘inattention blindness’, and means that although drivers are looking through the windscreen, they do not process everything in the road environment that they must know to effectively monitor their surroundings, identify potential hazards, and respond to unexpected situations.

Self-awareness is also a key tool in reducing the number of serious accidents and fatalities caused by distracted driving. Before starting a ‘secondary’ activity while driving ask yourself two questions:

  1. How distracting is this?
  2. How would this look to me if I saw another motorist do this?

Nick Lloyd, acting head of road safety

Posted: 5/17/2019 11:51:30 AM 0 comments


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