Generally it can be said that a motorcyclist’s lot is a happy one. Out on the road being observant and looking out for our own skin while interacting with other vehicles, however one observation that always crops up from riders is the use of mobile phones by other vehicle users.
There doesn’t seem to be a week from Northern Ireland or Europe or even globally that on the internet especially the social media of Facebook and Twitter, there is a campaign launched to highlight the dangers of using a mobile phone whilst driving.
The use of the mobile phone whilst driving – talking or texting is an ongoing scourge – with riders’ continued observance of their use with some very high profile court cases of riders killed by drivers whilst using mobile phones.
This scourge is relentless with police carrying out specific enforcement zero-tolerance crackdowns on illegal phone use with tickets and fines. It seems to make no difference as a threat to motorists as police exercise no discretion in relation to mobile phone use.
Last year’s Northern Ireland Survey of Seat Belt Wearing at 12 sites throughout Northern Ireland covering urban, rural and motorway locations observed 13,584 cars and details of 20,438 occupants were recorded, found that for mobile phone use:
One per cent of drivers were observed using a mobile phone, 0.6 per cent of whom were using a hand-held phone (illegal) compared with 0.7 per cent in 2013 and 0.3per cent who were using a hands-free phone (legal but still distracting) compared with 0.4 per cent last year.
Interestedly drivers were more likely to be using a mobile phone whilst driving on a rural road (1.2per cent) than on an urban road (0.9per cent) or a motorway (0.4 per cent) maybe they think that nobody will be watching.
The figures break down as 13,584 observed, male drivers 7,753 and Female drivers 5,831. However 99.1% were observed not using a mobile phone of either hands-free or hand held.
This seems to us to be a very low figure and maybe because of the static sites used to observe drivers which would limit identifying this problem, because on any day, at any time, on any road, drivers can be observed using mobile phones.
Advice – Rules – Regulations – Guidelines
Advice and rules and regulations and guidelines for not using mobile phones whilst driving are at every turn in road safety messages and campaigns, featured on the news, police stop camera type programmes, social media, specific police enforcement campaigns and the High Way Code.
Last week saw the first ever UK wide campaign to specifically combat the use of mobile phones whilst driving.
The text to the campaign read, “The number of motorists using mobiles to make calls, texts & social media updates has increased and has been deemed to be the principle causation factor in a number of serious collisions. Using a mobile while driving increases the risk of a collision by a factor of four and driving ability is decreased to something similar to that observed for driving at the legal alcohol limit. Road Policing patrols will be #keepingpeoplesafe as they look for drivers who flout the law.”
The Northern Ireland Department Of The Environment (DOE) – Road Safety Education – has produced an advisory leaflet which highlights the dangers of using a mobile phone whilst driving.
Although they say that, “Having a phone with you on a journey can be smart for personal security and to help in an emergency.” The main message is that, “If you use a mobile phone while driving, you’re one call from being a killer, one text from being in prison.”
One of the latest campaigns, with an accompanying video, is from Kent County Council’s road safety team, who found that a third of drivers in the county use their mobile phones while driving, including texting or accessing social networks, despite knowing it is dangerous and illegal.
Another one from England is my red thumb which has travelled across from Colorado, USA, originally called Red Thumb Reminder it was a reminder for people not to use their phone whilst driving; through painting their thumb nail red. So every time a driver saw their red thumb they were reminded of the message.
We could go on picking these campaigns and videos out from all over the world but what we want to see is actually how prevalent mobile phone and distracted vehicle user use is.
If you want to help, then you can go to our “Mobile Phone Scourge – Mark It – Map It!” online map were you can add a “marker” if you have spotted a road user on their mobile phone talking or texting “illegally” or some other distraction so you can then gauge the ongoing scourge of mobile phone usage on the road.
“Mobile Phone Scourge – Mark It – Map It!” – Click Here
Links & Information
Seatbelt Survey Report 2014– pdf 1.1MB – Click Here
Seatbelt Survey Appendix Detailed Tables 2014 – excel (159KB) – Click HereDaCoTA (2012) Car telephone use while driving, Deliverable 4.8b of the EC FP7 project DaCoTA – pdf – Click Here
Kent County Council’s – Make The Right Call – Click Here
My Red Thumb – www.myredthumb.com