Keeping you up to speed
We all know that using a mobile phone while driving is wrong and dangerous, yet many of us still do it. A survey by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) found that as many as a third of all drivers admitted to using a mobile phone while driving, with a third of those admitting to doing so regularly. High mileage drivers are even worse, with over three quarters of them admitting to using their mobile phone when driving.
Government studies show that you are four times more likely to crash if you are using a mobile phone when driving, with reaction times up to 50% slower as you try to do two things at once. The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) studied 700,000 accidents and found the distraction caused by using a mobile phone when driving was worse than drinking alcohol:
If you don’t think that you will be distracted by your mobile, try taking the online test at: http://think.direct.gov.uk/drivingchallenge/index.html. You’ll be surprised at the outcome.
As well as the risk to yourself and other road users, if you are caught using a mobile phone when driving, you face a penalty of three points and a £60 fine – penalty points will seriously increase your van or car insurance premium. What’s more, if you are caught using a mobile phone when driving within two years of passing your test, the points are doubled to six points, which for young drivers could make car insurance prohibitively expensive.
It is worth noting that ‘at the wheel’ includes sitting at traffic lights or in queuing traffic, so you could still be penalised even if you are not moving.
The best way to stay safe while driving is to ignore your mobile phone altogether. If it is vital that you stay in touch, you should get a professional hands-free set fitted to your car, although you may still be prosecuted if you are deemed to be distracted by your phone.
If you have to use a hand held phone, you should always park up safely to return a call or send a text, but never use the motorway hard shoulder. Wait until the next services or pull off at the next junction and find a safe place to park.
You should also consider drivers when calling them. If you think they may be on the road, you should leave your call until later when they can safely give you the attention you need.