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Almost one-in-five (18%) of drivers aged 17-24 admitted to taking part in video calls while behind the wheel, figures for the RAC Report on Motoring 2020 reveal.*
Younger drivers are more than twice as likely to say they make or receive video calls while driving – on average 8% of all UK drivers say they do this, with the figure rising to 13% among those aged 25 to 44. Equally worrying is the finding that just under one-in-10 drivers aged 17 to 24 (9%) say they play games on their phones while driving, making them three-times more likely to do this compared to the average UK driver.
Other drivers’ use of handheld phones is the second biggest overall motoring-related concern identified in the 2020 RAC Report on Motoring research, after the state of local roads – a third of all UK drivers surveyed (32%) say the issue concerns them and strikingly nearly eight-in-10 (79%) now want to see camera technology introduced to catch drivers acting illegally.
Alarmingly, 29% of drivers of all ages in 2020 say they make and receive calls on handheld phones while driving, that’s 5% more than last year and the highest proportion since 2016. While younger drivers are still more likely to do so (42%, down from 51% last year), those in the 25 to 44 age group are also statistically more likely to break the law in this way (32% admit to doing so, almost unchanged on 2019’s figure of 33%).
More positively, the proportion of drivers admitting to other dangerous activities such as checking or sending text messages or taking photos or video appear to be reducing – although it is unclear whether this is simply down to lower overall car use this year as a result of the pandemic. Eight per cent of all drivers say they text or send other messages while driving, down from 14% last year and from a high of 20% in 2016. But young drivers are again much more likely to break the law – 15% of those aged 17 to 24 say they are doing it in 2020, although this is down substantially on 2019 (37%). More than one-in-10 motorists (14%) this year say they check texts or other app notifications while driving, down from 17% in 2019. Among younger drivers, the proportion is 22%, down from 35% last year.
The ongoing problem of drivers illegally using handheld mobile devices is a topic the RAC has studied closely since the 2016 Report on Motoring highlighted the issue was at ‘epidemic levels’ – a finding that sparked tougher penalties being introduced just a few months later. But four years on, the data suggests a renewed focus is needed to bring about a lasting change in behaviour among motorists, particularly younger drivers.
Given the enormous police resources required to ‘catch drivers in the act’, motorists seem particularly keen on enforcement taking place using cameras, something that has been pioneered in Australia. Of the 79% who support the introduction of camera technology to identify illegal mobile phone users in the UK, the vast majority (52%) are strongly in favour of this happening.
RAC road safety spokesperson Simon Williams said:
“Our figures highlight what many drivers already know – that the problem of illegal phone use at the wheel has far from disappeared. While there’s been a reduction in some elements of this dangerous activity, more people say they are making and taking calls now than at any point since 2016, shortly before tougher penalties were introduced.
“And the rise in the popularity of video calls means this type of communication represents a new, clear and present danger on the UK’s roads in 2020.
“Our findings from 2016 were a watershed moment which led to the UK Government calling for people to make illegal mobile phone use while driving as socially unacceptable as drink-driving. The fact drivers still state it’s their second biggest motoring concern of all shows that more progress still needs to be made here.
“It’s also the case that the bar to convict somebody under the current offence of using a handheld mobile phone while driving is high, making it difficult for the police to enforce. Any mobile phone activity that doesn’t involve telecommunications, such as checking text messages, recording a video or changing pre-downloaded music, is also, bizarrely, not covered by the set mobile phone law, although drivers could be convicted for not being in proper control of their vehicles.
“So, it’s significant that motorists are united in their desire to see camera-based technology, like that already in use in other countries, introduced on our roads to catch drivers who risk everyone’s safety by breaking the law in this way. If the behaviour of those who continue to think it’s safe to use a handheld phone while driving upwards of a tonne of metal is ever going to change, they need to believe there’s a reasonable chance of being caught.”
Inspector Frazer Davey of the Avon and Somerset Police Roads Policing unit said:
“The importance of concentrating on your driving cannot be overstated. Using a mobile phone while in charge of a car puts you and everyone else at risk. The consequences of allowing yourself to be distracted while you are driving can be catastrophic. It’s simply not worth it.”
* The RAC Report on Motoring is an in-depth view of driver opinion and behaviour and has been running every year since 1989. It is conducted among a sample of the driving public who are representative of UK motorists. The 2020 survey was completed by 3,068 drivers
Photo: RAC Media Centre / Getty
One in four traffic accidents is caused by distraction while driving. Six thousand people are killed on the roads in Europe every year, and the cost to society resulting from smartphone use while driving is increasing. The smart technology of the Dutch company SafeDrivePod prevents distraction to drivers caused by phones.
Founded in 2016, SafeDrivePod is a leading global player in preventing smartphone distraction, with users in over 20 countries. The company works with international insurance and leasing companies to reduce the number of claims and insurance premiums, and with fleet owners investing in the safety of their employees. More than 100,000 SafeDrivePods have been sold to date.
With Autobinck, an investor has been found that shares the firm’s vision of preventing as many road deaths and injuries as possible. Co-founder Paul Hendriks of SafeDrivePod: “We have gained a solid partner with AutoBinck, allowing us to accelerate our growth and contributing to our aim to become a standard item in every car produced.”
Paul Zekhuis, CEO of AutoBinck: “SafeDrivePod's services are highly complementary with the other telematics solutions already offered by AutoBinck and in line with our aim of further developing innovation in mobility through concrete propositions for large fleet owners”. SafeDrivePod will become part of Mobinck, AutoBinck's new mobility company.
In addition to solutions to minimise distraction while driving, SafeDrivePod launched its Corona tracer after the Coronavirus pandemic broke out. Co-founder Erik Damen of SafeDrivePod: “We quickly converted one of our existing products into a measuring instrument that tracks all the contacts of employees who have been within 1.5 metres of an employee with a tracer. It does so without the need for GPS or a smartphone and with maximum privacy. There is great interest in this technological solution worldwide. As a result, we not only offer safety on the road but also in the workplace”.
According to the UN World Health Organization (WHO), road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death for children and young adults aged 5-29 years.
The millions of lives lost every year due to road traffic collisions is “an outrage”, said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “It is an unacceptable price to pay for mobility”.
Moreover, 93 per cent of the world's road fatalities occur in low- and middle-income countries, even though these nations have approximately 60 per cent of the world’s vehicles.
“Most road traffic deaths and injuries can be prevented, using tried and tested strategies,” stated the WHO chief.
“This conference is an opportunity for the world to embrace a new agenda to radically reduce the number of lives lost on our roads and re-think how we can provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all.”
In his opening statement, the King of Sweden, Carl XVI Gustaf, said the conference “represents an opportunity to link the road safety challenge to other sustainability challenges, such as climate change, health, equality, poverty and human rights”.
Headway on road safety
Many countries have made progress through road safety management and better legislation around risks – such as speeding, drinking and failing to use seatbelts, and infrastructure – including safer sidewalks and dedicated bicycle lanes.
Positive changes depend on strong leadership and political will at the highest level of government and in close collaboration with civil society and the private sector.
In collaboration with WHO, Sweden hosted the more than 1,700 participants from some 140 countries at the Conference on Road Safety where delegates shared successes and lessons learned, while charting strategic directions for global road safety, and defining ways to fast-track progress around proven strategies to save lives.
The Chairman’s conclusions, called the Stockholm Declaration, were presented by Swedish Infrastructure Minister Tomas Eneroth, and called for strong political will and international cooperation, along with partnerships across society.
It also connects road safety to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, laying out recommendations to accelerate action towards halving global road traffic deaths and injuries by 2030.
Previously, UN Secretary-General, António Guterres had said that saving lives by improving road safety was “one of the many objectives of the 2030 Agenda”.
UN Road Safety Fund
The Conference also saw the UN Road Safety Fund unveil 10 new projects that will target key gaps in the road safety systems of 12 countries. With a total budget of nearly $4 million, these projects will scale the Fund’s geographical and programmatic footprint in the coming months.
Maring the occasion, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety, Jean Todt said: “When the Fund launched the 2019 Call for Proposals, the Advisory Board, of which I am a member, had one clear priority – projects must demonstrate a chain of results leading to tangible impact on the number of fatalities and injuries on the road. I am convinced that these selected projects will accelerate progress in this direction.”
Getting serious about road safety
Meanwhile, Etienne Krug, Director at WHO’s Department of Social Determinants of Health, in a commentary, painted a haunting picture of a new mode of transport that while offering speed and comfort, would kill 1.3 million people per year and injure 50 million more. The UN official explained that half of those killed voluntarily used the system, while the others just happen to be in the vicinity, at “the wrong place at the wrong time”.
“No sane government would permit it!”, he stressed.
Noting that the declaration from ministers and stakeholders in Stockholm would “pave the way for the necessary political will and additional innovative approaches to drive progress towards halving global road traffic deaths and injuries by 2030”, he said, “Let’s hope the right decision is taken now, so that we can move quickly towards a safe, healthy, and clean transport system for everyone”.
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Photo: UN News | Mikael Ullén
Hosted by the Government of Sweden and co-hosted by WHO, the Ministerial Conference will be an opportunity for delegates to share successes and lessons from implementation of the Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011–2020, chart future strategic directions for global road safety, and define ways to accelerate action on proven strategies. The Ministerial Conference will also provide an opportunity to link road safety to other sustainability challenges.
Road safety is an urgent health and development matter. The number of deaths on the world’s roads remains unacceptably high, with an estimated 1.35 million people killed each year. In addition, as many as 50 million people are injured. Road traffic crashes are the eighth leading cause of death globally for people of all ages, and the leading cause of death for children and young adults aged 5–29 years. Road traffic deaths and injuries shatter lives and throw families into poverty. On average, they cost countries 3% of their GDP.
The Ministerial Conference will gather around 1500 delegates, including ministers of transport, health and interior from Member States; senior officials from UN agencies; and representatives from civil society, academia and the private sector. The Chairman’s conclusions or the “Stockholm Declaration” will be adopted by Member States prior to the Ministerial Conference, and will likely call for, among others, a new global target for road safety for 2030, a High-level Meeting of the UN General Assembly on Road Safety in 2022, and a set of innovative solutions to save lives on the world’s roads.
A scheduled pre-meeting, the 2nd World Youth Assembly for Road Safety “Claiming Our Space for Safer Mobility”, will be hosted by YOURS: Youth for Road Safety and co-hosted by WHO on 18 February 2020, bringing together around 200 youth road safety advocates from 80 countries. The event will feature a full-day of programming, exploring crosscutting solutions to challenge this number one cause of death for youth. It will be action oriented, intergenerational, and inclusive, and will culminate in a youth declaration for road safety.
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The vehicle was driven by Adam Pearson. Adam narrowly escaped death and suffered life changing injuries. Adams’ vehicle was pushed into the van in front which turned sideways and created a braking action into the car ahead driven by Mark Goldsmith which in turn was pushed into his partner’s (Tracy Houghton) vehicle. Tracy’s Corsa was pushed under the lorry in front and reduced one-third of its normal size.
Kroker, from Trajan Walk, Andover, Hampshire, had been so distracted he barely looked at the road for almost a kilometre. He was scrolling through music selections on his phone at the time of the crash. On 31 October 2016 Kroker was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for the deaths of Aimee (11), Josh (11), Ethan (13) & Tracy (45).
During his sentencing at Reading Crown Court, Judge Maura McGowan said the lorry driver’s attention had been so poor he “might as well have had his eyes closed”.
Thames Valley Police, with the support of the families, released a video of the crash to educate & to deter drivers from using a phone [warning this video contains some disturbing scenes].
Three years later the issue of using a phone while driving remains an issue and insurers’ figures show in excess of 20% of all collisions are as a direct result of driver distraction.
Writing in Post last year Aviva’s CEO Maurice Tulloch compared driving distracted to drink driving saying: “It is crucial to make distracted driving as socially unacceptable as it is to drink and drive. Let’s all put distractions aside, focus and enjoy the journey.”
Kate Goldsmith (mother of Aimee) wants to see the eradication of mobile phones use while driving and is supporting Post’s Driving out Distraction campaign which encourages people to pay attention to the road and pull over if they need to use their phones.
The campaign aims to lobby insurance companies and their customers (especially fleet drivers) to embrace proactive measures to block the use of phones and work together to incentivise drivers to overcome this terrible habit. Furthermore encourage the government to go further with its proposals.
Egertons Recovery Group has already pledged its support for the campaign. Mark Egerton, founder of Egertons, said: “We act on behalf of a number of UK police forces and the Highways Agency, along with several major insurers and large fleet users.
“Frequently collisions we attend involve serious injury and fatalities and an increasing number are as a direct result of drivers being distracted by use of a mobile phone. We were instructed to attend by the police on the A34 at the scene of the Tomasz Kroker collision in 2016.
“The consequences of such horrific events are heart breaking, unbearable and far reaching. Clearly this was life changing and horrific for the bereaved families but also the emergency services, our staff and the other emergency services and members of the public at the scene. The Kroker collision traumatised our staff and many other people and three years on it is still as vivid and shocking as ever.
“Egertons is proud of our stance to mandate and to protect our employed drivers. Protecting third parties too. By using a small and inexpensive device in our fleet of vehicles to block the physical use of a smartphone while driving. We are also encouraging our fleet customers to follow our lead.”
Alice Cooper, corporate partnerships officer at Brake Road Safety Charity, which is supporting the campaign added: “Using a phone when behind the wheel can impair you as much as driving drunk - a car is a lethal weapon and it only takes a moments inattention to result in devastating consequences.
“Drivers need to understand that no call, text or social media update is worth risking a life.”
Rachel Stow, managing director of Thorneycroft Solicitors and DoD signatory, said: “Our specialist team of motorcycle lawyers are all too familiar with the tragic consequences of driver distraction and mobile phone usage. Those on two wheels are vulnerable road users. Bikers are less visible by their very nature and even with all of the correct safety equipment they are still more likely to sustain serious and catastrophic injury if hit by a vehicle. Mobile phone distraction is entirely avoidable and individuals and companies should all be taking responsibility, ultimately we have a legal and moral duty of care.”
Holland-based SafeDrivePod is one company helping to combating mobile phone use with device that blocks the use of phones in a moving vehicle and believes the UK is behind Europe in stamping out this problem. Its customers include big fleet firms including G4S, Heineken, Initial Rentokil, insurance firm Tryq in Denmark and leasing companies like Volkswagen Financial Services AG, which understand their responsibility as a fleet owner to care about their employees.
According to Initial Rentokil in Holland it has seen collisions reduce by 24.7% after employees were mandated to use SafeDrivePod.
Paul Hendriks, founder of Safe Drive Pod, added: “Far too often companies recognise the addiction to phone use but are reluctant to take action. This is despite, on a global scale, an increase in road accidents because of smartphone use. 10 years ago this problem didn’t exist and now it is the number one cause of accidents.
“It is our wish that every new driver on the road will be the new generation and always use safety products in exactly the same way as seatbelts. Every parent, every company owner and every insurance company has to take action – to protect their employees, customers, families and all road users.
“Since 2013 an increase in deadly accidents in Europe is because of physical smartphone use and not because of handsfree calling. The government and insurers in the UK should focus initially with banning and blocking texting”.
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In Vienna, we will pitch our solution for saving lives by removing phone distraction while driving to a large network of decision makers and innovators from the FIA Region I network of Clubs.
For more information visit the website: https://www.fiastartup.eu/
Or check out the video: https://vimeo.com/318733401
Tryg will be using SafeDrivePod to reduce traffic accidents among its customers.
Handheld mobile phone use is not only dangerous but also – in most countries – illegal. Nevertheless, many drivers are still tempted to call, text or read on their phone.
SafeDrivePod is an app that eliminates the temptation, locking mobile phones when it detects the driver’s vehicle is in motion. The Dutch-based provider of the app has now developed Tryg Mobil, which will allow the Danish insurer to offer this mobile blocking service to its customers.
“We’re pleased to pass on our experience to the Danish market,” said Paul Hendriks, SafeDrivePod’s founder and Managing Director. “Our global base is 121,000 vehicles, and growing. Our goal is to save 1000 lives by 2020.”
In September, Tryg launched a pilot with Tryg Mobil in its B2B customer segment – mainly transport and logistics operations – although the pilot is open to all companies insured by Tryg with a fleet of more than 15 vehicles. After six months, Tryg will evaluate if and how to integrate the mobile blocker into its overall offer.
“Trucks and vans can cause great damage in case of accident. We’ve observed SafeDrivePod’s results abroad with great interest, and we hope we can see the effect of TrygMobil in our statistics,” says Johan Kirstein Brammer, Tryg’s CCO.
Suitable for couriers
The SafeDrivePod solution consists of three elements: a five-cent-sized piece of hardware, the related app, and a reporting system for fleet managers. If the hardware detects movement of the vehicle, the app blocks the mobile device’s screen. Phoning is then only possible in hands-free mode. The screen is unblocked again 10 seconds after the vehicle stands still.
SafeDrivePod works without GPS and therefore doesn’t record any trips. The SafeDrivePod is not only suitable for use in trucks, but also in passenger cars or buses. It can even be useful on a bicycle (e.g. for couriers).
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