The use of mobile phones whilst driving is a major cause of road accidents. We all know we shouldn’t do it but according to the RAC 31% of us admit to using a handheld mobile phone whilst driving. To put this into context, this could mean as many as 11 million drivers making or receiving calls and 5 million taking photos or videos. Many commentators equate the use of a mobile phone as being just as dangerous as drink driving; more dangerous given the the number of drivers seemingly prepared to offend.
From 1 March 2017 the consequences of using a mobile phone whilst driving have doubled. Offenders will now receive 6 points on their licence and a £200 fine. The common option of going on a police awareness course for this offence is no longer offered and repeat offenders could see their fine raised to £1,000. Those people stopped at traffic lights and checking how many likes their #drivingselfie has got them may think this a harsh penalty. The people I see as clients following the death or serious injury of their loved ones most likely see it as not enough of a deterrent.
Drink driving attracts a social stigma which using a mobile phone has yet to develop but the consequences of being the cause of an accident are no less devastating. One of the worst cases I have read about is of Tracy Houghton and her three children. She and her children were killed when the lorry driver behind her was scrolling through his music on his mobile phone and he failed to notice the line of traffic had slowed to a stop. By the time he realised he was unable to take avoiding action and he ploughed into Ms Houghton’s stationary car, shunting it into the lorry in front. The most heartbreaking aspect of this story is that her partner and his son were travelling separately and saw the accident unfold. I can only imagine the psychological trauma this family is having to endure.
The lorry driver was 30. Most studies label the worst offenders as being 17-24 year olds. However, as social media continues to worm its way into our everyday lives it is a potential trap which lies in wait for us all. I heard an advert on the radio at the weekend advising motorists who were “addicted” to their mobile phones to put it where it could not be reached. The strap line was “Make the glove compartment, the phone compartment”. Just don’t use your mobile phone whilst driving, it really is that simple.
It should be remembered that if you are the cause of an accident whilst using a mobile phone it is not just the fine and points that you are risking. The lorry driver involved in the accident above was found guilty of causing injury and death by dangerous driving. You also have to live with the horror of what you have done. Is updating your status really that important?