National Road Safety Week 2013 is taking place across the country this week. This year the campaign focusses on the dangers of using a mobile phone while driving.
Distraction is about where your mind is at – if it’s not on the main task at hand, you’re distracted. If you’re distracted when using roads, it’s no laughing matter: it could cost you or someone else their life.
A lot of us are pretty attached to our smartphones these days, so distraction is no longer just about making a call. We’ve entered a new era where being constantly connected is the norm and some people find it hard to switch off even for a minute. And smartphones aside, there are plenty of other old-fashioned distractions to avoid on roads, especially at the wheel, like eating, smoking or fiddling with a stereo.
Driving is the most risky thing most of us do regularly. It’s highly unpredictable, so you need your head on the job. Yet it’s easy to forget the risks, and many drivers think they can get away with multi-tasking.
The truth is none of us are good at doing two things at once. It’s a proven fact that if you try to multi-task at the wheel you’re putting yourself and others in real danger, even if you feel in control. It makes you much more likely to crash, by increasing reaction times and affecting your ability to control a vehicle. In many ways, the effects are similar to drink driving, and can similarly lead to tragedy. The roads around Aberdeenshire are dangerous enough without the added complication of using your phone while driving.
If you get caught using your phone while driving not only will you get 3 points on your licence but you will also get a minimum of a £60 fine. In Aberdeenshire there are over 3400 drivers who currently have CU80 endorsements on their licence for using a mobile phone while driving.
If you get a CU80 endorsement you may find that at best your insurance premiums will go up and at worst you may find it a lot more difficult to get insurance. The endorsements will stay on your licence for 4 years and may well have an impact on your current or future employment opportunities if they involve driving any vehicle on the road.
That’s why Brake the national road safety charity is working to get the message out that everyone, especially drivers, needs to tune into road safety, and avoid distractions that could cause devastation. They’re calling on drivers to turn off their phones or better, stick them in the boot, and never attempt to do anything at the wheel other than the critical task at hand: driving. They’re also appealing to everyone to stay focused on roads and never distract anyone else, including never chatting to someone on the phone who’s driving.
You can make a difference and help keep yourself and others safe on roads by:
- following their advice to switch off the distractions and tune into road safety – particularly if you drive, but also when walking, cycling, skating, running, you name it
- making a commitment to keep yourself and others safe, including not being distracted, by making Brake’s Pledge, and sharing it on Facebook
- encouraging friends, family and colleagues to Pledge too. You could even promote it through your community/school/organisation’s newsletter
- calling on your MP to make a difference by asking them to speak out in Parliament. Use our super-easy online form to drop them a quick note
- spreading the word by printing off tune in posters and putting them up in your school, community or workplace
- encouraging your employer to support the campaign and follow Brake’s advice to commit to a no-phone driving policy, including no hands-free calls on the road