X the TXT

Ride It Right the motorcycle safety initiative reports that it is supporting Allstate Northern Irelands “X the TXT” campaign.

The campaign which is fully supported by the DOE Road Safety branch and the PSNI, encourages people not to text and drive, by concentrating on young drivers at Colleges to pledge not to text & drive and to take the message home to friends and family that it’s not OK to text and drive – X the TXT.

As motorcyclists we know the importance of reading the road ahead, the need to concentrate on riding and to ride without distraction, however other vehicle drivers while sitting in their vehicles can easily become distracted while driving and no more so from the use of mobile phones.

Even with the legal implications of, Driving without proper control or driving using a handheld mobile phone, which can bring drivers a fixed penalty of £60, three penalty points; with a fine of up to £1,000 (£2,500 for drivers of goods vehicles, buses and coaches) and possible disqualification if taken to court, drivers still appear to be using their mobile phones to talk and to text whilst driving.

“X the TXT”

The campaign aims to raise awareness of the dangers of texting while driving as well as the legal implications and the human cost of texting and driving.

This campaign was started in the US by Allstate Northern Ireland’s parent company, one of the largest car insurers in America because of the increasing numbers of collisions due to people texting while driving.   This is also becoming a wider issue in Northern Ireland so it was decided to launch the campaign in schools locally as part of Allstate’s Community Responsibility programme.

According to Rose Kelly, Vice President & Chief Administrative Officer of Allstate Northern Ireland, ‘the key objective of the campaign is to inform and educate students approaching driving age that text messaging is a significant distraction to the serious business of driving with potentially fatal consequences’.   Our aim is to deliver a series of awareness events in local schools for year 13 and 14 students which will promote awareness of the dangers of text messaging while driving particularly amongst younger and inexperienced drivers’.

Ronnie Tosh, Manager of the DOE Road Safety Education Officer Service in Northern Ireland expressed his gratitude to Allstate for their campaign which will go a long way to assist the Department in educating young drivers and influencing attitudes and behaviours towards road safety.

Mr Tosh explained, “Educating the public and influencing attitudes and behaviours towards road safety is vital and the first step towards achieving this is to instil good road user attitudes and behaviours in young people.  What is learnt and put into practice at an early age forms the basis of adult behaviour.  Through working in partnership with organisations such as Allstate, initiatives like this will contribute to a reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads each year”.

Head of Road Policing, Superintendent Muir Clark said: “Using a mobile phone while driving is not just an offence, it can lead to a lapse of concentration that can and has resulted in people being killed in crashes on roads in Northern Ireland this year.

“Drivers must exercise proper control of their vehicle at all times. Never use a handheld mobile phone when driving. Using hands free equipment is also likely to distract your attention from the road. It is far safer not to use any telephone while you are driving. No phone call is worth losing your own or some innocent person’s life. If it’s a vitally important call, find a safe place to stop first.

“We welcome the fact that less people are being detected for the offence, and would remind drivers not to use mobile phones when driving, to always wear their seatbelt, drive within the speed limit and to never, ever, drive after drinking or taking drugs. Do any of these things and at best you’ll be caught, put before the courts, fined or even banned from driving. The worst doesn’t bear think about.”

Students taking part in the event are asked to support the campaign by stamping their thumbprint on a banner which will remain at the school as a constant reminder of not to text and drive, they also receive a pair of thumb bands that read “TXTING KLLS” to wear as a daily reminder when texting.

Research conducted on Facebook by the RAC Foundation in 2008, polled 3000 drivers and found that 48% of 18-24 year olds admitted to texting while driving.  Early research by the Transport Research Laboratory for the RAC Foundation found average reaction times slowed by 35% when 17-24 years olds drove in a simulator while writing or reading texts.  The texters were found to drift out of lanes more, had poorer steering control and were less able to maintain a constant distance behind a lead vehicle.

Despite legislation introduced in Northern Ireland to address the use of mobile phones was introduced in Northern Ireland on 27 June 2007 and the PSNI have reported that they issued 17,857 endorsable Fixed Penalty Notices from 31 July 2007 to 31st December 2008.

Using a mobile phone whilst driving is still obviously an ongoing problem on our roads and it is hoped this new campaign will raise awareness amongst young people as well as the wider Northern Ireland community.

You can show your support for the X the TXT – Don’t Text and Drive campaign by becoming a fan on the X the TXT Facebook site – www.facebook.com/XtheTXTNI.




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