Ahead of changes in the law, coming into effect on 1 March 2017, which will double penalties (possible £200 fine and 6 points for your licence) for using a mobile phone while driving, Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) is urging drivers to avoid distractions and never to use a mobile phone at the wheel – or there could be life changing consequences.
Since December 2003, it is illegal to use a mobile phone, held in the hand, while driving or while stopped with the engine on. However, this has not stopped a significant number of drivers from using their handheld mobile devices when behind a wheel.
According to findings published by the RACs Report on Motoring 2016, released in September 2016, the number of drivers who admit to using a handheld mobile phone has increased from 8% in 2014, to 31% in 2016. Additionally, there has been a rise in drivers who admit sending a text, email or posting on social media, with the figure increasing from 7% to 19%*.
Using a mobile phone while driving could have devastating consequences – as particularly highlighted by the tragic incident last year on the A34 in Berkshire. Mobile phones can be a significant distraction and substantially increase the risk of a road traffic collision occurring. Research suggests that if you are using a mobile phone while driving you are four times more likely to be involved in an accident.**
Pete Farmer, Temporary Group Manager for Prevention said: “This is an area of real concern. The reported statistics show that mobile phone use behind the wheel is on the rise and if not addressed this will result in an increase in the number of road traffic collisions that we attend. I would urge all drivers to avoid any distractions and to keep their eyes firmly on the road ahead at all times.”
Councillor Christine Bateson, Community Safety Member Champion said: “Hazards can arise at any moment while you’re driving. If your attention is on a mobile phone rather than the road, there could be severe consequences, not only for you, but also for other road users. Your mobile phone may call out for your attention, but whatever it is, it can wait until you’re parked up safely.”
Click below to watch a short video on mobile phone safety, created by the THINK! campaign: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZKMpubRxjY
**The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, Mobile Phones and Driving – 2015