Figures out today (Thursday, 21 September) reveal that 9.2 million motorists admit to using their handheld phones behind the wheel, despite tougher penalties for the offence which came into effect in March. Our motoring journalist, Tim Barnes-Clay, reports.
The findings come just a week after a collation of organisations, lead by road safety charity Brake, wrote to Android, Microsoft and the GSMA (Groupe Spéciale Mobile Association), urging them to include an ‘opt out’ driving mode as standard across mobile handsets. The group has urged the industry to do more following Apple’s release of its iOS 11 system update, which includes a ‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’ mode that automatically detects when someone is driving and prevents distracting calls, text messages and notifications.
Commenting on today’s figures, Jason Wakeford, Director of Campaigns for Brake, the road safety charity, said: “The illegal use of handheld mobile phones when driving is a growing menace and a major threat to road safety. Research shows that using a phone at the wheel affects reaction times as much as drink driving, increasing the chances of a crash.”
Wakeford added: “As a society, we have become addicted to our mobiles, but a split second distraction caused by a call, text or notification behind the wheel can be deadly. Drivers should always put phones on silent and out of reach in the glove compartment. The mobile phone industry must also play its part, including technology as standard which helps keep drivers’ attention on the road, saving lives and preventing serious injuries.