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Tag Archive: distracted driving

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

Man In Car Talking On Mobile Phone Whilst Driving


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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09/11/2016 No Comments

Distracted driving through the eyes of a breakdown patrol officer

distracted driving


We should all know that since December 2003 driving whilst using a mobile phone is illegal, not to mention incredibly dangerous, yet recent research reveals that more than 500,000 motorists still pick up their phone when behind the wheel.

Using a mobile phone, whether it be hand-held or hands-free whilst driving holds a significant distraction to the driver and almost certainly increases the risks of crashing or causing an accident. Reports now suggest that using a hand-held device is even more dangerous than drink or drugs where at least 1 in 20 drivers under the age of 30 have been caught flouting the law.

Drivers who use a mobile phone are less aware of what’s happening on the road around them and are up to four times more likely to cause an accident. Even careful drivers can be distracted by a call or text – and a split-second lapse in concentration could result in sometimes very serious road traffic accidents.

We have teamed up with David Hartford, a Breakdown patrol officer, to demonstrate just how prevalent mobile phone use remains whilst behind the wheel of a car. He shares his first hand insight into some of the shocking things he sees on a daily basis whilst out on patrol in the UK and provides some road safety tips to help you stay safe.

Mobile phones – The Law

Using your mobile phone whilst driving has been illegal since December 2003. Below is a list of laws you may not be aware of:

  • It’s illegal to use a handheld mobile when driving.
  • This includes using your mobile phone to follow a map, read a text or check social media. This applies even if you’re stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic.
  • You can only use a handheld phone if you are safely parked or need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop.
  • If you’re caught using a handheld phone while driving, you’ll get 3 penalty points on your licence and a fine of £100. Points on your licence will result in higher insurance costs.
  • If you get just 6 points in the first two years after passing your test, you will lose your licence.
  • You may use a hands-free phone while driving but you can still be prosecuted if you’re not in proper control of your vehicle. The penalties are the same as being caught using a handheld phone.
  • The penalties for driving carelessly or dangerously when using a handheld or hands-free phone can include disqualification, a large fine and up to two years imprisonment.
  • *Source: Think! Road Safety – http://think.direct.gov.uk/

Over the years, successful awareness campaigns highlighting the dangers of drink-driving have contributed to its reduction leading to a stigma which increasingly deems it socially unacceptable.

This now has to happen for mobile use. Statistics that show such campaigns can assist to reduce driver reaction times by 35 per cent.

With the number of phone-related crashes rising and dozens of deaths being caused every year, national road safety charity Brake have launched a campaign to introduce new laws banning the use of hands-free phone systems in vehicles.

We support the notion of introducing tougher consequences for mobile use behind the wheel – whether it be texting, calling, filming or surfing social media – it has to become as socially unacceptable as driving after a drink, and should be subject to the stronger punishments in the courts.

Jane Woodcock of Hudgell Solicitors Said: “With drivers continuing to flout the laws around mobile phone use, putting people at risk, the only way to eradicate this danger would be for mobile phones to have to be placed in a closed space, such as the glove compartment when a car is being driven, and for hands-free calls to also be stopped.

“It may seem drastic action, but maybe drastic action is what is needed to get the message through and improve concentration levels behind the wheel.”

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17/06/2016 No Comments

Would automatic bans for drivers using mobiles finally prevent people from putting lives at risk on the roads?

Man In Car Talking On Mobile Phone Whilst Driving


It may well be the driving offence now most commonly committed on the UK’s roads – using a mobile whilst behind the wheel.

Whether it be spending just a few seconds to answer a call, glancing at an incoming text, or, more blatantly, using a smartphone for social media or even to take pictures and videos, most people would find it hard to deny using their phone when driving at one time.

Over the past 10 years, more than 200 people have been killed in Britain in accidents involving drivers using hand-held mobile phones at the wheel.

The number of accidents in which phones have been involved is increasing, with almost 500 accidents caused by drivers who were using a hand-held phone in 2014, the highest number on record. Of those accidents, 21 proved fatal.

Research by The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has shown that drivers using any type of mobile phone – hands-free or not – are four times more likely to crash, injuring or killing themselves and other people.

However, it is a message which is largely ignored, as research recently conducted by our road accident claims team at Hudgell Solicitors has highlighted.

Asked which single new law would make the biggest difference to road safety in the UK, 45 per cent of respondents said an instant ban for being caught using a phone.

Interestingly, just 15 per cent thought a total ban on drinking alcohol before driving would result in less accidents on the roads.

In my view, these figures give an indication of acceptance that the law regarding mobile phone use is routinely broken and is not strong enough. It suggests tougher punishments are needed to make drivers think, and not pick up their phone.

Without stronger punishments, many – and perhaps even those who consider themselves safe and considerate drivers – will take the risk.

Ministers last year announced plans which will see most first time offenders offered an educational course to learn about the risks of their behaviour after they are stopped by police.

Those who are ‘persistent offenders’ will face an increase from the current three penalty points to four, while fines will rise from £100 to £150.

The flaw here is that ‘first time offenders’, on the vast majority of occasions, will not be that. They’ll more likely be regular offenders who have been caught for the first time.

Also, why should there be such a thing as ‘persistent offenders’? Do we get persistent offenders of drink-driving being allowed to hold onto their licence? Certainly not.

I have previously written about my belief that such punishments are not strong enough, as I believe people currently do not associate the risk of being caught and punished for using a mobile anywhere near that of being caught drink-driving.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where many don’t stop and think of the possible victims of their reckless actions, instead focussing on the punishment they’ll face for breaking the law rather than the damage they can do to the lives of others.

As well as potential technological innovations and continued publicity of the dangers of driving whilst using a mobile phone, more serious punishments for mobile phone use are needed. Only then can we make a difference and improve safety on the roads.

At present, the punishment certainly doesn’t fit the crime. In order to combat the culture of driving whilst using a mobile phone, that simply has to change. Before more lives are lost.

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08/04/2016 No Comments

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