For the third year in a row Asprey Harris Insurance Consultants are backing the international ‘Don’t Stream and Drive Day’. Taking place on Tuesday 16 April, the campaign is backed by Police, road safety groups, motoring organisations and legal representatives throughout Europe and beyond.
The aim of the campaign is to prevent accidents and save lives.
Distracted driving is nothing new. From rubber necking to messing about with the stereo, lighting cigarettes to eating or drinking and even controlling children, there have always been reasons for drivers to take their eyes (and minds) off the road. The mobile phone has simply added an additional distraction to already overloaded drivers.
Over the past few years mobile phones have become an extension of our hands and so normal in our lives that many drivers are oblivious to the dangers. Our lives are becoming increasingly digitally orientated and the plethora of social media platforms, chat services and other applications, all calling for the user’s attention, has become a very real issue for many.
Then we have those who actively engage with such platforms whilst driving. A short glance to read a notification can lead to tragedy but live and recorded video has become very popular and is increasingly leading drivers to record footage whilst at the wheel. A brief search across social media platforms will quickly reveal drivers engaged in this dangerous behaviour in your area and across the globe.
The message is clear: #DistractedDrivingKills
Based on 2017 KSI figures:
- Three people are killed or seriously injured every hour on British roads.
- In 2017 UK mobile phone consumers average data usage increased from 1.3 to 1.9Gb
- Smart phones have become the most popular internet-connected device with 78% of UK adults using one
- There is substantial documented research proving that hand-held and hands-free mobile phone use is a significant distraction and substantially increases the risk of being involved in a crash
- A National Safety Council white paper concludes that drivers using mobile phones have a tendency to look but not see, sometimes referred to as ‘Inattentional blindness’.
- Estimates indicate distracted drivers will see up to 50% less than an undistracted driver – see the case of David Wagstaff where inattention blindness was cited by the defence; https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-43520457
Drivers who use a mobile phone whilst recording/live streaming will:
- Be less aware of what is going on around them
- Fail to see road signs
- Fail to maintain lane/road position or consistent speed
- Be more likely to tailgate
- Have increased reaction times, take longer to brake and stop
- Be more likely to enter unsafe gaps in traffic
Reported KSI figures have declined from 2007 but have reached a plateau since 2010; the rise and popularity of social media overlaps this period. Facebook launched in 2004, Twitter 2006 and Instagram in 2010. From 2004 to 2010 Facebook acquired its first 100m users. Since then it has grown to over 2bn. This alone gives a good indicator to how social media has infiltrated the lives of people of which many will be road users.
Ninety eight percent of households in the UK have a mobile phone. Data usage, helped by increased connectivity speeds, has shown an increase in the average data usage by mobile phone consumers. With our busy connected lives it stands to reason that some of this activity is from behind the wheel.
Most people envisage ‘use’ of a mobile phone whilst driving as holding it in their hand. Many drivers, when considering how they use a phone in a car, will insist their use is safe because a) they are not holding it and b) the legislation says hands free is lawful. This exacerbates the road safety issues.
As new cars increasingly come fully loaded with media screens and connectivity the dangers around what phone ‘use’ means and how people interpret that is only going to increase.
Respected social media expert Erik Qualman claimed that by 2018 video will account for 66% of mobile phone use. This is consuming content but also by users creating content that is recorded to post or broadcast live.
‘Carpool Karaoke’ with James Corden has been a global success and is highly popular. Many social users, craving attention, likes and views are engaging in copycat type behaviour. This can simplistically be viewed as ‘If he can do it.. so can I’. Notwithstanding any safety procedures the TV show may put in place, when viewed it showcases and extols distracted driving.
Social media has become the new place to find breaking news and often before the major news outlets. Members of the public have the opportunity, when presented with a situation, to break that news to the internet. The draw of this is high and is evident by the number of those who record crash scenes as they drive past ( #eRubberNecking ) or how many people record unfolding incidents instead of helping.
An increasing number of social platforms allow the use of live or recorded video and algorithms are tailored to give it a high priority for shareability. Much of this content is public and easily found but with locked accounts and multiple platforms we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg.
Drivers who use a phone for live streaming/recording video whilst driving are likely to have reduced observation skills and reactions. Observations can become tunnelled and hazards in peripheral vision can go unseen.
Driving requires 100% attention with full control over visual, physical, auditory and cognitive skills. Studies show that drivers easily recognise visual and physical distractions but cognitive distractions much less so.
Ruth Purdue – Ex General Secretary of TISPOL and Chief Operations Officer UKROEd said: “I totally support this campaign. Every day on average 5 people lose their lives on our roads. One of the main contributors is distractions. This applies to drivers, passengers and also pedestrians. We all have a part to play. Support this campaign and spread the message. Let’s save lives together and change behaviour that will save lives.”
Steve Horton – Road Safety GB Director of Communications said: “It never ceases to amaze me that drivers think they can do more than ‘just’ drive; why anyone would allow themselves to be distracted from an activity as potentially dangerous as driving seems crazy to me. Short distractions are bad enough but to be involved in something that requires ongoing thought and engagement, like streaming, for an extended period just means the risk of tragic consequence grows massively. So anything that reminds drivers that distractions slow your response to emergencies and that there’s already enough happening on the road to mean your full attention is needed, is a very good thing and would be supported by all road safety professionals.”
Neil Worth – Road Safety Information Officer of GEM Motoring Assist said: “Who remembers what life was like before mobile phones? Smart phones have led a revolution in the way we live our lives with everything accessible at the swipe of a screen. Trouble is when you’re driving you need to concentrate 100% on what you’re doing and you simply can’t do that and use your phone at the same time… Get it wrong and people can be seriously injured or worse. This is why we support the #DontStreamAndDrive campaign – driving? Leave the phone alone! “
Claire Howard, Serious Injury Partner at Irwin Mitchell, said: “Sadly at Irwin Mitchell we see the consequences of road traffic collisions, first-hand, every day. “The use of mobile phones in cars, causing distractions for the driver, is something we are seeing more and more of in our work. The importance of raising awareness of the dangers of this is something that cannot be underestimated.
“We are proud to support the #DontStreamAndDrive campaign as its aims to help make our roads safer for everyone.”
Josh Harris, Director of Campaigns at Brake, said: “Brake is delighted to support this excellent campaign, which does vital work in raising awareness about the dangers of driver distraction.
“On the road, a single moment’s inattention can have lifelong, and catastrophic, consequences. As mobile devices become ever more fundamental to our daily lives, it is increasingly important to ensure that the dangers they pose are understood and addressed. With study after study showing that driver distraction from mobile phone use is as dangerous as drink-driving our message to drivers is simple. When behind the wheel, make sure your phone is in the glovebox, silent and out of reach.”
If you have any questions or would like to get involved with the campaign, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org