This week I had the pleasure of doing a piece to camera for the ITV program Good Morning Britain on distracted driving, especially looking at distracted drivers who use their mobile phones to text and tweet while driving.

The presenter and cameraman turned up at 6 am to shoot the piece, we decided to drive into town to get set up for it, we parked up beside some traffic lights which is also very close to a roundabout, the presenter was on the lookout for people driving past who were using their phones while driving.

Using your phone while driving

“Learn the ways of the road. Before using your phone while Driving, Think!”

To be honest I was expecting that many people driving past to be using their phones at that time of the morning especially as it was so early and where I live it is mostly older people driving at that time. But within seconds the cameraman spotted someone driving past at speed heading towards the roundabout while they were looking down at their phone.

We were parked there in total for about an hour and it seems that about 1 in 10 drivers were on their phones. This, to be honest, frightened me a bit, the thought that someone driving behind me could be texting and not looking at the road ahead, I myself have been hit from behind before many years ago by a lady who was texting and driving at speed while my pupil and myself were stopped at red traffic lights. I could see her in my rear view mirror but there was nothing I could do to stop the crash.

“Distracted Drivers raises car accident risks. Young drivers are involved in about 10% of accident fatalities and 13% of police-reported crashes resulting in injury.”

At the ” accident ” the lady got out of the car and started screaming at me for stopping at a green traffic light, I explained to her that the lights were red she started crying and asked me not to call the police. She also promised she would never use her phone again whilst driving. I somehow didn’t really believe her that she would keep her word and lucky for my pupil and myself that we were not hurt. We were the lucky ones you might say.

They already know it’s wrong and against the law but it still does not stop them.
What will stop them? Make them think twice about checking the texts or emails while driving. Education about the damage they could do to themselves and to others maybe one day they might end up killing someone. It is amazing how many people think they can win the lottery but when it comes to them texting while driving it’s not going to be them that’s going to hurt or kill someone, its the other person who is texting that will do that, definitely not them, NEVER they say. They are great drivers, well above average. It is always the other person.

My Solution for Distracted Drivers

My solution or a part of it is to have an instance 3-month ban from driving if it’s their first offence, do it a second time and you get a full 1-year ban and if your stupid enough to do it a third time you will be banned for 10 years.
There’s never a good excuse to check your phone while driving. This will save lives and stop people from getting badly hurt. Using the phone should be viewed the same way as drink driving, Make it socially unacceptable and maybe we will all be a little safer on the roads.

As instructors, we have a big role to play in educating the people about the dangers of using phones and anything else while driving. Noel Gaughan, At the start of my lessons I always explain the dangers of having the phone switched on as the pinging noise it makes when you get a message can be a distraction in itself. People are curious and always tend to think that that message could be really important and there is the temptation to have a sneaky look as they are driving along. I always explain to them that the phone is best switched off while driving and the phone should be out of sight, preferably it should be in the glove box or as I call it the phone box.

Instructors, please drive home that message that while driving the worst thing you could have is been distracted by a silly message on the old mobile phone. I hope you all have a fantastic and safe month on the roads, keep a check on the rearview mirror mind, you never know what’s coming up behind you.
PS: At the time of writing this we are on target to hit the 3000 signatures for our campaign to bring down the waiting times for driving tests.
Thank you.

Noel Gaughan’s Petition for Distracted Drivers – Intensive Courses in Good morning Britain – 29 May 2014 – Photo by Ken McKay – ITV/REX

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