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November 9th 2016

Jane Woodcock

It’s time to put pressure on mobile phone firms to make it impossible to call at the wheel

Jane Woodcock

Jane Woodcock

Senior Legal Executive and Head of Personal Injury

It’s time to put pressure on mobile phone firms to make it impossible to call at the wheel

The problem of drivers being distracted by using their mobile phones at the wheel is one which simply won’t go away – unless of course, it is made impossible to do.

The problem of drivers being distracted by using their mobile phones at the wheel is one which simply won’t go away – unless of course, it is made impossible to do.

New figures have recently revealed that almost 10,000 drivers have been caught twice for being distracted while driving, including using a mobile phone, over the past four years.

Figures from a BBC Radio 5 live Freedom of Information request to the DVLA showed almost 240,000 drivers had been caught driving whilst distracted at least once, with 10,000 caught twice and 600 caught three times.

Of course, the biggest distraction danger of all is that of the mobile phone.

That danger was highlighted in no more harrowing and heart-breaking manner than last week, when lorry driver Tomasz Kroker was jailed for 10 years for killing a mother and three children while using his smartphone.

The court heard he had been so distracted he barely looked at the road for almost a kilometre.

In terms of the law, we at Hudgell Solicitors have very much welcomed tougher sentences being introduced, as from next year drivers being caught on their phones behind the wheel face six points on their licence and a £200 fine.

It is about time, but it is not enough.

We continue to campaign for this mobile menace to be tackled, and will make it a major focus or our messages during Road Safety Week later this month (Nov 21-27).

Plenty of others are also playing their part in working to make the roads safer, from campaigners to charities and politicians, but what about the people making the most money out of our smartphones and our addiction to social media – the phone manufacturers themselves?

Can developers prevent phones being used at the wheel?

Reports in the national newspapers have claimed phone giants Apple actually already have the technology to be able to introduce a disabling function on their phones.

The Daily Mail reported that the technology giant filed an application to patent a ‘lock-out’ feature which would disable a phone when being used by a driver, but has never introduced it.

It says patent documents reveal that the device would be able to determine if the car was moving through GPS and see who was using the phone by activating its camera.

Despite this patent being granted in 2014, Apple has not added the potentially life-saving feature to its products.

Apple would not reveal why it had not pushed ahead with development of the technology, although a spokesman said the firm was ‘strongly committed to helping users stay safe.’

Surely now though, Apple, and its competitors in the mobile phone industry, need to be questioned as to why, and to how long it will take to be introduced.

We currently see many trivial improvements made to Apple’s iphones with each new update and model introduced, from being able to take pictures under water to adding more emoji icons to messages.

However, what would really make a difference is a new facility which would have a genuine impact on reducing the number of accidents on our roads.

This week, the relatives of those killed by the truck driver using his phone at the wheel have called on Apple to introduce such a disabling function, and have asked for a meeting with the company in a bid to see the technology introduced in Britain.

It would be great to see support from the Government also, who we believed should be putting extra pressure on these businesses to place a greater focus on the safety of their millions of customers.

If one positive can come out of the tragic deaths of this family, forcing this introduction into mobile phone technology would be a significant one.

It could save other families from the same devastating fate.

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