Campaign launched as statistics reveal that more than half a million UK drivers have points on their licence for using their phone at the wheel
Road charity Brake has called for a total ban on phone use by drivers to prevent accidents caused by multi-tasking at the wheel.
The national campaign launched today to coincide with the start of Road Safety Week, appeals to them to turn off their phones or put them in the boot, as well as urging people to refuse to speak on their phone to someone who is driving.
Brake, along with opticians Specsavers and tracking solutions provider Romex have released statistics that show 575,000 UK drivers have points on their licence for using their licence for using their mobile at the wheel or being otherwise distracted.
One in 15 (6.5 per cent) of these drivers have six points or more for being distracted and just over three quarters (78 per cent) are male.
Almost two thirds (62 per cent) of children said they have been driven by someone using their phone and 79 per cent have seen drivers on mobile phones outside their school or home.
The campaign is being supported by the Association of Chief Police Officers, who are coordinating a week-long campaign of heightened police enforcement across the country targeting drivers on hand-held phones.
It comes a decade after the motoring mobile phone ban was introduced. Currently, drivers caught using a mobile at the wheel to call or text face a fixed penalty notice of £100 and three points on their licence, or may be offered a course instead of taking points.
In some cases, drivers may have to appear in court and face disqualification and a maximum fine of £1,000. Drivers who cause a crash and kill someone while using a mobile could face up to 14 years in prison.
Brake deputy chief executive Julie Townsend 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 UK 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.
“We are also calling on government to do more to tackle driver distraction, by extending the ban to hands-free phones at the wheel, and further upping fines for the potentially deadly offence of driving distracted.”