Using mobile while driving – WHY?
One of the most thorny subjects of recent times in our industry has been mobile use whilst driving. As a child I was brought up when drink driving was not quite the cultural heinous crime it is now. Previous generations would think nothing of drive to a country pub and drive back after 3 or 4 pints (without seatbelts in most cases.) When I hit 17 and got my first car this kind of behaviour was never going to happen. The adverts we saw as teens showing drink driving and the carnage it could bring, not to mention the thought of losing our licences for the sake of two pints was a massive deterrent.
Fast forward to 2014 and the the use of mobiles behind the wheels (outlawed in 2000???) is as common a sight as before the ban. A trivial crime that is only punished by a couple of points on your licence. The fact is on my travels I very rarely see traffic officers (seemed to be millions of them when I was in my 20’s) so the chances of being caught are slim. Although I’m not sure how as I see at least 10 people a day with head bowed reading or writing a text, email or with the phone at their ear.
Now I’m not saying I’ve never done this (although I struggled to drive and talk one handed when I did it!) and I’m guilty of occasionally reading a notification whilst sat in the car or going in a straight line on the motorway. But would I even consider doing this if the punishment was the same as drink driving?
Study after study shows that using the phone whilst driving can be as dangerous as having 3 or 4 alcoholic drinks. Not sure I agree 100% with a ban on hands free use whilst driving as I think that would take the business world back a decade. I’m not saying that business is before the cost of a life but we travel more for work and need to be able to make the odd call. I personally now take a call via my hands free and keep the call short and return the call when stopped. My phone sits in a screen mounted bracket and luckily my car has a very clever phone book system for calling outbound and identifying incoming call. But using a phone to text, update Facebook or twitter whilst driving is more than dangerous. With the advance in technology often fixed in the modern car and available as aftermarket accessories to still hold your phone in your hand and make a call is ridiculous. Most people have a phone with Bluetooth now that can talk to a headset (though I’d rather wear my onesie to work) or a very sophisticated in-car sunvisor unit. I got my brother in law a kit for his birthday that reads out his text messages, calls with voice activation and can connect to two phones at once. Cost £24.99 inc VAT (hope he doesn’t read this!!) The cost of not being in control of the vehicle you’re driving? A recent survey showed how much your insurance premium goes up if you’re caught using your phone (look for conviction codes and uplift in insurance); if the points don’t matter the % premium increase certainly will.
Now I’m not pitching anything we sell, I just get cross that a person I know may be injured just because someone wants to check what time they are meeting at a pub or want to know what their mates are doing on Facebook. How do we stop this? My personal view is 6 points minimum and £1000 fine, no text I’ve ever needed to send is worth that much. Drink driving got an instant ban and I don’t know anyone of my generation who now risks this. (With less police on the roads, it’s the fear of the punishment that’s an adequate deterrent.) 3 points and £100 is not quite the deterrent it should be.
We would be interested in getting your thoughts on this – comment on social media!