Should drivers be gambling with safety and using mobile phones?

Driver texting on mobile phone whilst driving

If you spend any time standing at the side of a road it will not take long to tally a hefty number of people driving past using their phone. The top deck of a double-decker gives a good aerial view and can also reveal a startling trend of drivers passing whilst using their phone.

A survey by Transport Scotland and Department of Transport revealed Scottish drivers are significantly more likely to use their mobile phones whilst driving compared to anywhere else in the UK – and this doubles for younger drivers aged 17 to 24 years old.

They found more drivers using their mobile phones at traffic lights compared to on the move. However, by law even holding a mobile phone at any point while driving is an offence, including while the car is stationary at traffic lights or sitting in queuing traffic.

The police report that a driver is four times more likely to crash if using a mobile, and reaction speeds are halved.

However, the sad reality is that drivers continue to gamble with the safety of themselves and others. The growing trend of being glued to our phones at every waking moment has seemingly spread to include the time spent driving.

Perhaps people think they will not get caught, or perhaps they think that even if they do the penalty is light enough that they can afford to take the risk.

The real consequences of using your mobile whilst driving

Although the stricter penalties that came in force in March 2017 go some way to addressing such a mentality, if indeed that is the problem, it is worth remembering that it might not just be the fine, the points, the re-sit of the test and any increased insurance premiums that you need to worry about. 

There could also be adverse consequences for your job, your family life and your own freedom if you drive whilst using your phone.            

Driver reading text message sent to prison after causing fatal accident

Danny Warby was driving a 13.6 tonne vehicle when he crashed into a car being driven by off-duty police officer Det Con Sharon Garrett.  At the time, Mr Warby was reading a text message.  Mrs Garrett died at the scene. 

Mr Warby was convicted of dangerous driving, banned from driving for ten years and was jailed for six years.     

Driver using mobile phone jailed for 9 years after causing fatal injuries to cyclist

Cyclist Lee Martin suffered fatal injuries when he was struck by a van being driven by Christopher Gard. 

Mr Gard had at least six prior convictions for driving whilst using a mobile phone. He was jailed for nine years.    

Lorry driver distracted by mobile phone sentenced to 10 years after killing young family

Tomasz Kroker was driving a lorry when scrolling through music on his phone.  Although driving at 50mph, he had barely looked at the road for almost a kilometre. 

He crashed into the back of stationary traffic, instantly killing Tracy Houghton and her sons, Ethan, 13 and Joshua 11, along with her partner’s daughter, Aimee Goldsmith, 11.  Mr Kroker was sentenced to ten years in prison.        

The message cannot be more clear – aside from driving whilst using your phone being illegal, the consequences can be fatal and a moment of inattention could literally destroy your life and others. 

Be safe, and put your mobile phone away.