According to Brake, on average, someone is killed or seriously injured on UK roads every 16 minutes.
Distraction remains one of the biggest causes of accidents, and one of the biggest causes of distractions is still mobile phones. In fact, research from Australia suggests that using a phone while driving makes you four times more likely to have an accident.
There is no excuse for using a phone at the wheel so, as the final part of our series of tips and advice during Brake’s annual Road Safety Week campaign, we’ve taken a look at why…
Farming involves many, many hours in the cab – we don’t need to tell you that – and listening to a good playlist or podcast on your phone can really help keep you going during those long stints. Our phones also play a vital role in keeping us safe, ensuring we can contact someone in the event of an accident, and often providing accurate location data if needed like What3Words.
However, they are also a massive temptation, especially with the popularity of social apps such as TikTok and Instagram, or when a message pops in. When we’re tired, it’s easy for the distinction between field and road to blur but it only takes a moment of lapsed concentration for there to be potentially disastrous consequences.
It’s the law
Research undertaken by the Transport Research Library suggests that your reaction time when using a phone is 35% slower than when undistracted – putting this into context, there’s a 12% increase in reaction time when alcohol has been consumed to the legal limit.
No matter what vehicle you are in, it is illegal to hold a phone, sat nav, tablet, or any device that can send or receive data while driving. This applies even if you are stopped at traffic lights or in queueing traffic, supervising a learner driver, or if the device if offline or in aeroplane mode.
The only exceptions to this are: if you need to call 999 (or 112) in an emergency and it is unsafe or impractical to stop; if you are safely parked; if you are making a contactless payment from a stationary vehicle; or if you are using the device to remotely park your vehicle.
Currently however, you can still drive using a hands-free device. But it is worth remembering that research does show that this can also create a ‘mental distraction’ and increase your risk of collision. Police are able to stop any driver that they do not believe is in full control of their vehicle as a result of distraction, and this too can result in prosecution.
Penalties are understandably strict, and you can get six penalty points and a £200 fine for using a phone, sat-nav, tablet, or any device that can send and receive data while driving. This also means that if you have passed your driving test in the previous two years before the offence, you’ll lose your licence. If you do not have a full view of the road or proper control of the vehicle you can be given three penalty points. And finally, you may also be taken to court where you could be banned from driving and / or receive a higher fine.
So next time you’re tempted, ask yourself – is using your phone or other device at that moment worth your licence, your job, or even your life?
Learn more here