The offence of using a mobile phone whilst driving is now one of the most common road traffic accident offences. According to the findings on the RAC Report on Motoring 2017 it states that a shocking 23% admitted to having used a handheld phone to make or receive a call whilst driving in the previous 12 months. Even though the law changed with effect from 1st March 2017, so that drivers in England, Scotland and Wales who are caught using a handheld phone automatically receive six points on their licence and are fined £200, you will still find people driving whilst on their phone. You can also be taken to court due to the offence and either be banned from driving or get a maximum fine of £1,000, or £2,500 if you’re driving a lorry or a bus.
What people tend to forget when they think to quickly reply to that message, or quickly see what your friends are posting on Facebook whilst you’re stuck in traffic; that very serious life changing accidents occur as people are more focused on their phone than driving. Between 2013-2015, on average 24 people per year were killed in a road traffic collision due to the driver of the vehicle was using their mobile phone. The numbers for this statistic are unfortunately rising too, as compared to the 17 deaths reported in 2012. We deal with road traffic accidents day in and out, we hear the stories of our clients stating that the defendant was ‘not concentrating as they were on their mobile’ or ‘he/she did not see me as they were on their mobile.’ Our clients will have to deal with a change in their life, whether it be a 3-month whiplash injury or a 2-year severe muscle damage to their lower back injury. This is all because the defendant wanted to quickly reply to a text or check an update on their phone.
A rising offence is the use of Snapchatting behind the wheel. The rising use of Snapchat has led to a number of young drivers using their phone to take selfies behind the wheel, or videos of the music in their car, or recording the speedometer to show off how fast they’re driving! To the everyday driver this may seem a ridiculous concept of using the app, but the statistics show that over 10% of Snapchat users admitting to Snapchatting whilst driving. Due to the level of users, the app has introduced a new filter to prevent more accidents called ‘I won’t snap and drive’, though how successful this proved remains to be seen.
To protect yourself against irresponsible driving, don’t use your mobile phone, ever. There are many vehicles with the smart Bluetooth system or the ApplePlay feature, however this is still a cause for distraction. If you do have these features in your vehicle make sure you prepare your Sat Nav or music before setting off anywhere so that you do not need to edit anything whilst on your journey – just because it’s not a mobile phone, doesn’t mean it won’t distract you in the same way! For those of you with vehicles that do not have any form of Bluetooth feature, simply put your phone away. If the temptation is too much, put it in your glove box.
Imagine driving whilst using your mobile phone and you caused an accident that caused someone’s life to change dramatically? Imagine if you crashed your vehicle due to going on your phone and caused serious injury to your passenger, who was a family member? You would then stop and ask yourself, was that Snapchat really worth it?