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Tag Archive: jane woodcock

Using mobiles at the wheel: The offence countless people know is wrong – but many admit to committing

Woman using mobile phone


New research into attitudes towards mobile phone use behind the wheel suggest it’s a crime the vast majority would welcome much stronger penalties and punishments for – despite the very same people admitting to committing the offence themselves.

Punishments are due to become greater in 2017 as drivers caught on their mobiles will face fines of up to £200 (up from £100) and as many as six points on their licence (up from three points at present).

Such is the scale of the problem on the UK’s roads, nine in 10 motorists surveyed by personal injury specialists Hudgell Solicitors claimed to witness other drivers breaking the law and using their mobile phone behind the wheel every day.

It appears to have led to widespread support for the issue to be tackled with stronger punishments, with more than 80 per cent of people questioned saying they would support even stricter penalty points being imposed than those to be introduced next year, higher fines and even instant bans for drivers caught in the act.

However, many of the very same people who say they would back stronger penalties could end up facing the stronger punishment themselves unless they change their ways, as less than half of the same people questioned (43%) could honestly say they never used their phone at the wheel.

Almost a third (30%) admitted either using their phone every time they drove, or most of the time they were behind the wheel, over the past 30 days.

Worryingly, one in five also admitted to thinking it is safe to do so in certain scenarios, with the majority saying they looked at their phone at red lights or in ‘stop and go’ traffic.

Drivers understand dangers but still take the risk of using mobile phones

Jane Woodcock, head of personal injury at Hudgell Solicitors, has helped support many people who have suffered catastrophic and life-changing injuries after road traffic accidents.

She believes the survey results suggest many drivers see and understand the dangers, but wrongly believe they are capable of flouting the laws and staying safe when not in free-moving traffic.

The results are very interesting and suggest that many people are making their own judgements as to what is acceptable use of a mobile at the wheel and what isn’t,” she said.

It seems that many people think its fine to take out their mobile if stood at traffic lights, or when the traffic is slow and they are not moving far, but nothing could be further from the truth.

It is statistically proven that even using a hands-free drastically reduces concentration levels, and that concentration levels drop in the minutes after a phone call. Any use of a mobile phone is going to reduce the concentration and focus you place on the main task at hand.

The law is that you don’t use your phone when at the wheel in any circumstance, it is as simple as that. You don’t take your seatbelt off at traffic lights or in slow-moving traffic, so why pick up your phone.

It is clear from the number of people supporting stronger penalties that the vast majority of people know and accept any use of a mobile is highly dangerous and needs stamping out.

It has been suggested that the ‘fear of missing out’, which leads to so many people constantly checking their phones for emails and notifications on social media accounts, is playing its part.

Perhaps these are people who know they are doing wrong but need the threat of stronger penalties to force them to stop taking the risk, and to accept that anything on their phone can wait.

Drink-driving was still considered to be the most dangerous of driving offences by those questioned (45%), with using a mobile phone considered the second most dangerous (21%). One in five believed speeding to be the biggest threat to safety on the roads.

Hudgell Solicitors has been campaigning as part of the national Road Safety Awareness Week, spearheaded by road safety charity Brake, for drivers to ‘switch off’ from their mobiles when behind the wheel.

It has also urged people to turn their mobile from a distraction into a possible life-saver by using the ‘Medical ID’ facility on Apple iphones, which would enable emergency services access to key health information of the phone owner by simply turning it on and accessing the details direct from the home screen.

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23/11/2016 No Comments

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

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