21st century problems
We live in a world so technologically advanced that we can now perform tasks on our mobile phones that 20 years ago were best left to the realms of science fiction. These developments have enhanced many aspects of our lives and allow us to delve into a virtual world whenever we please. At times, though, being absorbed in something other than our immediate surroundings can have a serious effect on not only our safety, but that of others around us. A prime example of this is when we’re driving.
In today’s ultra-connected society, even a short drive could leave us feeling tempted to answer calls, read text messages, check social media or even use an app to answer burning questions like “who won the football?” A recent survey1 we carried out in conjunction with YouGov , revealed that one in five UK motorists admit to texting or using their mobile at the wheel.
So we teamed up with Channel 4 to create a short film that highlights the potentially dangerous consequences of using a phone while at the wheel. The short film features rapper Tinchy Stryder taking an unsuspecting passenger for a drive. Little does she know, he’ll be using his phone throughout. We spoke to Richard Coteau from Brake, who commented on the film and spotted some of the dangers associated with using a mobile at the wheel.
“You can’t answer it in your car…”
…said the shocked passenger, just before Tinchy picked up the call from his Mum. While in the film Tinchy mentions he finds it hard not to answer when his Mum rings, Coteau states that “using your mobile phone at the wheel distracts you from the primary task of driving. No matter how good or confident you feel at multi-tasking, research shows that using your mobile phone at the wheel can make you two to three times more likely to be involved in a crash.”
Although some think using a hands-free device reduces the risk of being in a collision, Coteau tells us that “brain scanning has confirmed that speaking on a hands-free phone makes you less alert and less visually attentive.” In fact, these types of calls “cause almost the same level of risk as hand-held, as the call itself is the main distraction, not holding the phone.”
“It could have been an expensive steak”
No matter how good the steak Tinchy’s Mum promises him for dinner, it’s probably not worth him risking his life, career and money by picking up the phone. Aside from potentially threatening the safety of everyone in the car, using a mobile while at the wheel could also harm Tinchy’s criminal record. Coteau indicates that “it’s illegal – drivers caught using a hand-held phone at the wheel to call or text face a fixed penalty notice of £100 and three points.”
Keeping in touch with the fans
The fear of missing out – commonly referred to as ‘FOMO’ – makes some people feel like they should always be available on their device. In the film, Tinchy shows how even while driving, some people can’t help but visit their social media pages just ‘to stay in touch with it.’ While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to keep up to date with the rest of the world, Coteau indicates that “reading and writing messages while driving – such as texting, emailing or social networking – is even more distracting than talking on a phone, as it takes your mind, hands and eyes off the road.” This can be dangerous as drivers who are typing on their phone have “35% slower reaction times and poor lane control.” Worryingly, “one large-scale study found texting drivers were 23 times more likely to crash than a driver paying full attention.”
Keep your friends safe
As passengers, we may at times feel like we have no say over the actions of the driver, and think that we’re merely there for the ride. Coteau on the other hand believes that “we have the ability to influence drivers by speaking out.” In the film, the passenger clearly spots the risks associated with Tinchy’s actions and points this out on a number of occasions. Coteau suggests that we “speak up when we are in a vehicle with someone who is acting dangerously, and have the confidence to do so too.”
While it may be tempting, using a mobile while driving significantly reduces our ability to concentrate on the road – making it more likely to be involved in a collision. No matter how important the call or text, or how much drivers want to check what’s happening online, leaving this for when they’re parked up could save their life, and the lives of others around them.
Falling asleep at the wheel
The next article in our Driven to Distraction series looks into the dangers associated with falling asleep at the wheel, read on to find out more.
Driven to distraction
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