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Summertime driving and your phone

 Published 22nd June 2020
Driver Guides 

As lockdown eases and a sense of relief that the worst of the coronavirus pandemic may be over, it might be tempting to become a little lax with our driving habits, especially as we enter the summer months.

However, drinking alcohol and driving remains an absolute no-no - even though you may want to celebrate the fact that pubs are re-opening. If you do want to visit a pub with friends, make sure you have a designated driver.

The other thing is to keep your hands on the wheel and off your mobile phone while driving.

Naturally, during lockdown, the mobile phone has been an ever present to keep you in touch with friends and family. But it's important to remember that - unless it's hands-free - using a mobile phone while you are driving is not only distracting it is illegal.

The penalty for driving and using a mobile is a £200 fine with six penalty points on your licence. But the outcomes could be potentially much worse than that. A quick check of a text could lead to a sudden loss of concentration and perhaps a fatality.

Latest government figures show that there has been a 4% increase in road fatalities from 1794 in the previous year to 1870 reported road fatalities. It's a worrying trend.

According to the RAC Foundation, 63% of road accident fatalities had driver error or reaction (which includes failing to look properly, loss of control and poor turn or manoeuvre) reported as a contributory factor leading to the accident.

Neil Worth, who is the chief executive of road safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist says that holding and using any device while in control of a car is a potentially lethal distraction.

"Using any mobile device while driving is a significant distraction, first of all because of the physical tasks – such as keying in characters on your phone or scrolling through information.

"It's also mentally distracting, and if you allow yourself to take part in a conversation or try to read and respond to data on your phone, you're seriously reducing your ability to focus on the journey, on the road ahead and on the hazards that may be developing.

"We want to ensure that every driver considers the consequences before picking up a phone. You wouldn't do it with a police officer watching and you wouldn't do it on your driving test. The risk doesn't just disappear when you think there's no one watching. Using a phone while driving is irresponsible and puts not only your own safety at risk, but the safety of those who happen to be sharing the road space with you.

"By ensuring your focus is 100% on the journey at all times, you will also be giving yourself the best chance of anticipating any hazards, which is a key part of keeping yourself and others safe."

Finally, do not be tempted to drink and drive - always have a designated driver with you if you plan to consume alcohol.

Five tips to keep your hands off the phone while driving

1. Put your phone safely out of reach during every journey. Build in breaks to longer trips so that you can check calls and messages safely.

2. You're allowed to use a mobile phone when you are safely parked, with the engine off and the handbrake on.

3. Don't be tempted to pick up your phone just because you're stationary at traffic lights or you are queueing in traffic.

4. If it's an emergency and it would be unsafe or impractical for you to stop, you may call 999.

5. Take a few minutes before a journey to make important calls or to check voice messages and emails. Work together with friends, family, colleagues and work contacts to remove the expectation that we should all be available, all the time.

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