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Motorists warned of the dangers of texting at the wheel

May 6, 2009

The dangers of texting while driving are highlighted in a new hard-hitting THINK! campaign launched last week by Road Safety Minister Jim Fitzpatrick after research showed that 30% of young drivers admitted to texting at the wheel.

Using a mobile phone at the wheel is considered the second most unacceptable driving behaviour among motorists with 93% agreeing that texting while driving is dangerous. However, 12% of all motorists admit to texting while driving.

The new radio advert features a driver’s voice spelling out a text message followed by the harrowing sound of a car crash.

An online ‘driving challenge’ game – which demonstrates how using a mobile at the wheel can completely distract the driver – is being circulated online via social networking communities and entertainment sites. In addition, the shocking THINK! TV ad will be returning to our screens to remind callers to ‘kill the conversation’ as soon as they realise that someone is driving.

Using a hand-held mobile phone while driving was made illegal in December 2003. Section 26 of the Road Safety Act 2006 increased the fixed penalty for drivers using a hand held phone or similar device from 27 February 2007. The penalty rose from just £30 to £60 and three penalty points. The same changes were made to the penalties for the offence of not being in a position to have proper control of a vehicle – a measure which can be used where a driver has been distracted by using a hands-free mobile phone. If the police or the driver chooses to take a case to court rather than use a fixed penalty notice, the penalty on conviction is 3 points, discretionary disqualification and a maximum fine of £1,000 (£2,500 for drivers of vans, lorries, buses and coaches).

Research shows that you are four times more likely to have a crash (‘Redelmeir D A and Tibshirani, R J (1997). Association between cellular-telephone calls and motor vehicle collisions. J Med, 336, 453.’)

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