Coordinated by Brake Avivabritangle2 Support think

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

Charity reveals six in 10 kids in Northern Ireland have been driven by someone using a mobile phone

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 Northern Ireland to tune into 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.

Brake and partners Specsavers and Romex are revealing statistics suggesting the majority of children in Northern Ireland have experienced being endangered by drivers for the sake of a call or text:

  • Six in ten Northern Irish school children (60%) report being driven by a driver talking on a phone;
  • Eight in 10 (81%) have spotted drivers on mobile phones outside their school or home [1].

In 2012, more than 5,000 drivers in Northern Ireland were issued with a fixed penalty notice for using a phone at the wheel [2].

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.)

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, including a launch event in Belfast.

Media are invited to the Northern Ireland launch event:
Road Safety Week is being launchedat an event sponsored by Wilson Nesbitt Solicitors.
AT: 10am, Monday 18 November 2013
WHERE:
Newtownbreda High School, Newtownbreda Road, Belfast BT8 6PY
FILMING/PHOTOS: 80 17-18 year old students will be taking part in a Too young to die workshop, engaging them on the dangers of driver distractions and importance of staying safe on roads, led by bereaved dad and Brake ‘too young to die’ ambassador Tony Davison. Students will pose in gadget masks for photos around a campaign banner.
INTERVIEWS: Ellie Pearson, Brake;
Tony Davison, Brake volunteer and ambassador; Claire Quinn, vice principal, Newtownbreda High School; vox pops with students.

Ellie Pearson, senior campaign officer at Brake, the road safety charity, says: “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 Northern Ireland’s drivers to tune into 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.”

Tanya Waterworth, a road crash claims solicitor at Wilson Nesbitt, says: “We are delighted to be supporting Road Safety Week, and working with Brake to help eliminate crashes caused by distracted drivers. At Wilson Nesbitt, we recognise that staying focused is vital to help ensure you are safe at the wheel, enabling you to spot hazards in time and react quickly in an emergency. We are urging everyone to support the campaign, and increase awareness of road safety and avoid distractions at the wheel, to help to reduce crashes. If we all get behind this campaign, we can make a huge difference in preventing casualties and making our roads safer.”

Claire Quinn, vice principal, Newtownbreda High School, says: “Road safety is a top priority at our school, because we know road crashes and casualties are the biggest danger young people face. We are delighted to have the opportunity to launch Road Safety Week in Northern Ireland from our school, and the students are excited to be involved. Distraction from mobile phones is an increasing issue for young people in particular, so it’s a great opportunity for our students to learn about the impact of distraction and take positive steps to keep themselves and others safe on roads as drivers, passengers and when calling other people. As a school we’re committed to the tune in to road safety message, and thrilled we can help spread this in our community.”

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 fixed penalty notice of £60 and three 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 Wilson Nesbitt

Wilson Nesbitt is a law firm in Northern Ireland with offices in Belfast and Bangor. We specialise in a number of areas of law such as property, matrimonial, criminal and personal injury, including medical negligence claims, amongst others.

As part of our work helping road crash victims claim compensation for their injuries, however serious, we are very aware of the dangers on our roads, and how driver carelessness can destroy lives. We encourage all our clients to drive responsibly to get home safely.

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] Results of a survey of 300 children age 7-11 from Northern Ireland by Brake, Romex and Specsavers, conducted May – October 2013. 300 of these children were from Northern Ireland. See full results.

[2] Police Issued Fixed Penalty Notice Statistics for Traffic Offences in Northern Ireland annual report, Police Service of Northern Ireland, 2013

[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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