Coordinated by Brake Aviva Support think

Campaign appeals to Yorkshire’s drivers: tune in to road safety and turn off your phone

Charity reveals 42,000 Yorkshire drivers have points for mobile phones and other distractions

18 November 2013

Brake, the road safety charity
t: 01484 559909, out of hours: 07976 069159, e: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

A campaign launched today (18 November) by the charity Brake at the start of Road Safety Week calls on drivers across Yorkshire to tune in to road safety, to prevent appalling crashes caused by multitasking at the wheel. The campaign appeals to drivers to turn off their phones or put them in the boot, and urges everyone to refuse to speak on the phone to someone who’s driving. It’s being launched almost a decade after hand-held mobiles at the wheel were banned and coincides with a week-long enforcement campaign.

Brake and partners Specsavers and Romex are revealing statistics confirming the extent of driver distraction, and its impact on vulnerable road users in Yorkshire:

  • More than 42,000 Yorkshire drivers have points on their licence for using their mobile phone at the wheel or being otherwise distracted (postcode figures). One in 18 (5.6%) of these drivers have six points or more for driving distracted and four in five (80%) are male [1];
  • Six in ten Yorkshire school children (58%) report being driven by a driver talking on a phone and eight in 10 (79%) have spotted drivers on mobile phones outside their school or home – suggesting the majority of children are being endangered by drivers for the sake of a call or text [2].

The tune in to road safety campaign is being launched in Road Safety Week by events and demonstrations in schools, universities and town centres across the UK, highlighting the dangers of taking your eyes, hands or mind off the road. The campaign in Yorkshire is being supported by Leeds Safer Roads Partnership and transport academics at Leeds University. The Association of Chief Police Officers is supporting the Week nationally by coordinating a week-long campaign of heightened police enforcement targeting drivers on hand-held phones. Forces including North, South and West Yorkshire are running activities in support.

Distraction reduces hazard perception and increases reaction times in a similar way to drink-driving, making drivers much more likely to cause deaths and injuries [3]. Drivers who think they can multi-task are fooling themselves: research shows 98% are unable to divide their time without it affecting performance [4]. Talking on a phone hand-held or hands free, texting, emailing, adjusting sat navs, eating, drinking and smoking are all proven to increase crash risk [5]. (More facts about driver distraction below).

Media are invited to the Yorkshire launch event:
Road Safety Week is being launchedat an event sponsored by Arco at 10am, Mon 18 November 2013
WHERE:
In front of Leeds University Students’ Union main entrance, Lifton Place, Leeds LS2 9JZ
FILMING/PHOTOS:
a crash extrication by West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service for students 10 – 10.30am. Students from the University will be posing in gadget masks for photos around a campaign banner. From 10.30am, media will be invited to visit the University’s driving simulator alongside Prof Oliver Carsten.
INTERVIEWS: Sarah-Jane Martin and Roz Cumming, campaign managers, Brake;
Ian Bitcon, Area Manager, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue; Professor Oliver Carsten, Transport Safety, Institute for Transport Studies, Leeds University; Cllr Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council; vox pops with students.

Sarah-Jane Martin, spokesperson from Brake, the road safety charity, said: “We’re living in an age when being constantly connected is the norm; more and more of us have smartphones, and find it hard to switch off, even for a minute. While there are enormous benefits to this new technology, it’s also posing dangerous temptations to drivers to divert their concentration away from the critical task at hand, often putting our most vulnerable road users in danger. Many people who wouldn't dream of drink-driving are succumbing to using their phone and other distractions while driving, oblivious that the effect can be similar and the consequences just as horrific. We’re calling on Yorkshire’s drivers to tune in to road safety: turn off your phone or put it in the boot, and never try to multi-task at the wheel. We’re also appealing to everyone to refuse to chat to someone on the phone who’s driving, to help them arrive safely.”

Ian Bitcon, Area Manager, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, said: “Each year a number of crashes happen on the roads of West Yorkshire, often with devastating consequences that change people’s lives immeasurably from the moment of impact. We fully support Brake, the road safety charity, which plays a vital part in educating people as to the consequences of a crash and how important it is that they drive responsibly.”

Professor Oliver Carsten, Professor of Transport Safety, Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds, said: “There is a huge amount of scientific evidence that distraction when you’re driving, whether talking on a phone, hand-held or hands-free, or being distracted by anything else, greatly increases your risk of crashing. This is because you need your full concentration in order to continually take in and assess risks as you’re driving. Many drivers believe they’re able to carry out a non-driving-related task without it affecting their driving, for example using a phone or eating a sandwich, but in reality this isn’t the case.”

Councillor Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for development and the economy said: “We had our lowest ever rate for people killed on roads in Leeds in 2012, but even one death or injury is one too many. Many crashes could be avoided if road users acted differently and this is why we are pleased to support Brake’s Road Safety Week and would remind everyone that using a mobile phone whilst behind the wheel is dangerous and completely unacceptable.”

Thomas Martin and Neil Jowsey, Joint Managing Directors at Arco, the UK’s leading safety company, said: “We are delighted to be supporting this important campaign to help keep people safe whilst driving. The core focus of our efforts at Arco is to keep people safe at work so this is a cause close to our hearts, particularly for those who drive for a living. We recognise that staying focused is vital to ensuring you’re safe at the wheel and with the winter weather on its way, we’re encouraging drivers to be prepared for the challenging weather and avoid distractions. This can mean taking simple preventative steps such as properly clearing icy or snowy windscreens so the road is fully visible, fully removing snow from vehicles and wearing sunglasses to protect against low sun glare. If we all get behind this campaign we can make a huge difference to keeping people safe.”

YORKSHIRE case study

Jemma O’Sullivan, 22, was killed in a crash caused by a texting truck driver on M18 near Doncaster in September 2010. Her parents, Vincent and Margaret O'Sullivan, are supporting Road Safety Week. Read more.

Vincent said: “Jemma was a bright and intelligent young woman, who brought nothing but joy to everyone who had the pleasure of meeting her. Our family will never be the same without her; not being able to see Jemma to say goodbye and losing her in this way is something that we will have to deal with for the rest of our lives. It is unbearable to think Jemma was killed for the sake of a text message. We are appealing to all drivers: please don’t kid yourself you can get away with multi-tasking at the wheel. No text, call or other distraction is worth taking someone’s life and inflicting terrible suffering on an innocent family.”

Facts on driver distraction

Driving is the most dangerous thing most of us do on a regular basis: you're operating a potentially dangerous machine in an unpredictable, public environment so it requires full concentration at all times.

In the United States, death from distracted driving has been increasing and researchers put this down to increases in drivers using smart technology [6]. In the UK Ofcom has warned of increasing levels of smartphone addiction by users who are unable to go without checking their phone for short periods or through the night [7].

It is believed around one in five crashes could be caused, at least in part, by driver distraction and drivers who perform a secondary task at the wheel are two to three times as likely to crash [8]. Some very complex tasks, like talking on a phone, whether hand-held or hands-free, increase this risk even more [9].

The effect of talking on a phone on driving has been shown to be worse than drinking certain levels of alcohol. Driver reaction times are 30% slower while using a hands-free phone than driving with a blood alcohol level of 80mg alcohol per 100ml blood (the current UK limit) and nearly 50% slower than driving normally and soberly [10].

Other forms of distraction not involving technology also cause risk. If you're eating or drinking at the wheel, you are less able to react; some studies have suggested the risk is as great as when talking on a phone [11]. Heightened emotions such as stress, anger or upset are cognitive distractions that significantly impede your ability to drive safely. The level of distraction depends on the level of distress [12].

Drivers caught using a hand-held phone at the wheel to call or text face a (recently increased) fixed penalty notice of £100 and three points, or may be offered a course instead of taking points. In 2012, more than 10,000 drivers caught using their phone at the wheel took a ‘what’s driving us’ course, instead of opting for points. In some cases drivers may go to court and face disqualification and maximum fine of £1,000. Drivers who cause a crash and kill someone while using a phone could face up to 14 years in prison, as well as the knowledge that someone died because of their decision to use their phone at the wheel.

Read more facts on driver distraction.

Notes for editors

About Brake

Brake is an independent road safety charity. Brake exists to stop the five deaths and 63 serious injuries that happen on UK roads every day and to care for families bereaved and seriously injured in road crashes. Brake runs awareness-raising campaigns, community education programmes, events such as Road Safety Week (18-24 November 2013), and a Fleet Safety Forum, providing advice to companies. Brake’s support division cares for road crash victims through a helpline and other services.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

 

About Road Safety Week

Road Safety Week is the UK’s flagship event to promote safer road use, coordinated annually by the charity Brake and involving thousands of schools, communities and organisations across the country. Road Safety Week 2013 takes place 18-24 November, with support from the Department for Transport, headline sponsors Romex and Specsavers, plus regional sponsors the Post Office, ARCO, Wilson Nesbitt Solicitors and ARI Fleets.

About the University of Leeds Institute for Transport Studies

The University of Leeds has one of the most capable research driving simulators in the world. The simulator is crucial tool for investigations of driving performance and behaviour. It has been used as means to investigate the effects of distraction and inattention on driving. The conclusion is that ‘eyes off the road’ and ‘mind off the road’ both have a detrimental effect on driver awareness and reduce the driver’s ability to respond in safety-critical situations

The University of Leeds is one of the largest higher education institutions in the UK and a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities.

The 2008 Research Assessment Exercise showed the University of Leeds to be the UK's eighth biggest research powerhouse and the University's vision is to secure a place among the world's leading universities by 2015. www.leeds.ac.uk.

About Arco

Arco is the UK’s leading safety company, distributing quality products and training and providing expert advice helping to shape the safety world and make work a safer place. Founded in 1884 and with a heritage spanning 4 generations, Arco integrates traditional family values with pioneering innovation to offer its 110,000 customers a world-class range of over 170,000 quality assured, branded and own brand products, including personal protective equipment, clothing, footwear, gloves, workplace safety and hygiene products. Headquartered in Hull, Arco reaches its customers through its extensive product catalogue, interactive website and 41 strong trade counter network. The company has sales of over £240m and employs approximately 1500 people.

Arco is dedicated to its Corporate Social Responsibility policy and continually demonstrates its support of local business communities and charitable organisations, donating in excess of 1% of pre tax profits annually. In 2007, Arco became a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) and in 2010 a member of Sedex, the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange. The company has also received the highly prestigious Family Business Honour by JP Morgan’s Private Bank and the Institute of Family Business (IFB). Going forward, Arco further demonstrates its position as the UK’s leading safety company as the exclusive supplier of PPE, footwear and workwear to the BLOODHOUND project’s support team involved with the design, build and race of a car to raise the world land speed record to 1,000mph in 2015. For more information, visit www.arco.co.uk.

About Specsavers

  • Specsavers was founded by Doug and Dame Mary Perkins in 1984 and is now the largest privately owned opticians in the world. The couple still run the company, along with their three children. Their son John is joint managing director
  • Specsavers has more than 1,600 stores throughout the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Spain, Australia and New Zealand
  • Total revenue for the Specsavers Group was £1.7 billion in 2011/2012
  • More than 20 million customers used Specsavers globally in 2011/2012. As of end March 2012, Specsavers had 16,138,076 customers in the UK and 928,582 customers in the Republic of Ireland *those who have been on the Specsavers database and active in the past four years
  • Specsavers optical stores and hearing centres are owned and run by joint venture or franchise partners. Together, they offer both optical and hearing services under one roof.
  • Specsavers employs more than 30,000 staff
  • Specsavers was voted Britain’s most trusted brand of opticians for the eleventh year running by the Reader’s Digest Trusted Brands survey 2012
  • More than one in three people who wear glasses in the UK buy them from Specsavers* - 10,800,000 glasses were exported from the warehouse to stores in 2011
  • Specsavers was ranked No 1 for both eye tests and glasses in the UK
  • Specsavers sold more than 290 million contact lenses globally in 2011/12 and has more than a million customers on direct debit schemes. Specsavers' own contact lens brand - easyvision - is the most known on the high street
  • The hearcare business in the UK has established itself as the number one high street provider of adult audiology services to the NHS
  • Specsavers supports several UK charities including Guide Dogs, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, Sound Seekers, the road safety charity Brake, the anti-bullying charity Kidscape and Vision Aid Overseas, for whom stores have raised enough funds to build a school of optometry in Zambia and open eyecare outreach clinics in much of the country

About Romex

Romex is an innovative company specialising in mobile workforce management solutions that enable companies to better protect and manage their employees.  By knowing where employees are and where they have been every minute of the working day and both how far and fast they have travelled, customers can improve productivity, efficiency and customer service, and reduce costs, administration and fuel usage.  Companies can also improve the health and safety of employees who drive on business or work alone and comply with legislation.  Our new Driver Distraction Management (DDM) module improves driver safety by preventing employees from making and receiving calls, texting, e-mailing or using social media when driving.  With no additional hardware needed DDM makes company policy on mobile phone use a reality and improves safety without losing productivity by allowing employers to contact employees without distracting them.   

  • Simple to use and quick to implement, Romex solutions turn GPS enabled smartphones in to highly accurate safety andtracking devices.
  • Romex can also help companies comply with health and safety legislation relating to employees who drive on business (INDG382) and Lone Workers (INDG73).
  • These solutions can be used for all employees, including Blue and White Collar workers regardless of how they travel, whether in a company van, their own car (the Grey Fleet), on public transport or even on foot.
  • A free demonstration is available upon registration at www.romexworld.com.
  • Romex World Ltd is part of Citylink Group Ltd, a technology business with 25 years of investment and experience that has built a number of service based businesses and delivered innovative web-based solutions. 

End notes:

[1] Analysis of Freedom of Information requests to the DVLA by Brake in August 2013.

[2] Results of a survey of more than 13,000 children age 7-11 from across the UK by Brake, Romex and Specsavers, conducted May – October 2013. 960 of these children were from Yorkshire. See full results.

[3] The impact of driver inattention on near-crash/crash risk: an analysis using the 100-car naturalistic driving study data, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2006

[4] Supertaskers: Profiles in extraordinary multitasking ability, University of Utah, 2010

[5] The impact of driver inattention on near-crash/crash risk: an analysis using the 100-car naturalistic driving study data, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2006

[6] Trends in Fatalities From Distracted Driving in the United States, 1999 to 2008, University of North Texas, 2010

[7] The Communications Market 2011, Ofcom, 2011

[8] The impact of driver inattention on near-crash/crash risk: an analysis using the 100-car naturalistic driving study data, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2006

[9] Role of mobile phones in motor vehicle crashes resulting in hospital attendance: a case-crossover study, University of Western Australia, 2005

[10] Using a hands-free mobile whilst driving can be more dangerous than drink driving, Transport Research Laboratory, 2009

[11] Crash dieting: The effects of eating and drinking on driving performance, Brunel University, 2008

[12] Emotionally involving telephone conversations lead to driver error and visual tunnelling, The Open University, 2011

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