Most drivers do not allow their mobile phone to distract them when driving but we know that there are still a proportion of drivers who do. We understand how difficult it can be to stop if you are used to chatting, texting, streaming or any other activity that uses your mobile device while you're driving. Mobiles are, after all, officially recognised as addictive. The good news is there are lots of things you can do to help break the habit of being distracted by your mobile phones at the wheel. Not only does driving safely protect the driver, passengers and other road users, it also supports our 999 services and the NHS by preventing road traffic collisions. So here are a few suggestions to help in your endeavours.
If you know that the temptation of using your mobile phone is strong for you make life easier on yourself by turning your phone off and/or putting it in the glove compartment or boot of the car so that you will not be tempted to take a sneaky peak. You can purchase signal blocker wallets that effectively put your phone to sleep whilst you travel.
Even better (if your phone has the facility) then turn on the ‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’ setting. This way every time you get in the car your phone will turn its notifications off automatically so you don’t have to remember to do something every time you get in a vehicle. If your phone does not have this functionality then there are lots of apps that you can download from the Apple App Store or Google Play that will do the same thing.
The great thing about these is that some of them automatically send a text to the person calling, explaining that you are currently driving,– this is great way of educating the person who is making the call that their call is important to you but you understand the importance of being safe behind the wheel.
Fear of missing out
People often say they are concerned about missing an important or emergency notification or call or are worried that people will expect a response and may think that you are rude delaying contact. What could be more important than making it home to your family member that may be calling? In an ‘emergency’ most ‘do not disturb’ mobile apps or settings can be overridden by 2 or 3 consecutive calls from the same number, so you do not need to be concerned about missing out. If it is work you feel pressure from to answer calls, then look at the Driving for Better Business website which has lots of information for employees and employers about this issue.
Be a great role model
If you are a parent, be a good role model for safe driving practices. When you child learns to drive, or gets in a car with a mate who has recently passed their test, how would you feel if you knew that the driver of the vehicle was paying more attention to their phone than what was happening on the roads in front of them? Set a good example by leaving the phone alone when you are behind the wheel. You could even recruit your children to tell you off if you pick up your phone whilst driving – children love turning the tables on their grown ups!
If you know someone who gets distracted by their mobile phone when driving, say something - tell them about your concerns and help them come up with a plan of action that will keep them safe. Any conversation will be more powerful if you get a friend to back up what you are saying.
If someone needs convincing of the reasons for needing to concentrate on their driving rather than interacting with their phone share these real life stories with them
Air Ambulance Emergency Doctor Clare Bosanko explains the real-life consequences of using a mobile phone at the wheel.
If you do end up in a vehicle with someone who uses their mobile phone make sure you speak up. Most people just need a nudge in the right direction - if you are not sure what to say – check out our video below for some simple ideas.
Be sure to share our video showing several positive ways that passengers can challenge drivers who are being distracted by their mobile phones.
Make a pledge
Make a pledge to your friends and or family about the action that you are going to take to be safe behind the wheel and avoid mobile phone distraction.
Paint your thumb red and during the time it takes to dry write down what action you are taking and what the implications of a crash caused by distracted driving would be to you personally.