Drivers on mobiles puttting lives at risk

Norfolk Police crackdown on drivers using mobile telephones. Pc Stephen Bodle issues a driver with a fixed penalty notice for using the phone whilst driving.
Norfolk Police crackdown on drivers using mobile telephones. Pc Stephen Bodle issues a driver with a fixed penalty notice for using the phone whilst driving.

Groundbreaking technology is being deployed in Sussex to combat in-vehicle mobile phone use.

It comes as Sussex Safer Roads Partnership launches a crack-down on the use of mobile phones in vehicles.

A pioneering piece of equipment, known as a Vehicle Activated Sign (VAS) has been funded by Sussex safer Roads partnership.

The VAS will be able to detect the use of mobile phones within vehicles whenever they drive past the sign.

Despite being against the law for fourteen years now, the advancement in technology results in mobile phone use still being very prominent in cars.

The SSRP aims to spark behavioural change in the county, which motorists can then use nationally. This technology, developed by a local company called Thermotor, is to be trialled in the Brighton and Hove district to begin with and then rolled out.

The technology will be deployed pan-Sussex once the trial has been found to be successful.

An IAM survey, questioning 500 people, found that 18% claimed to have accessed the internet while driving (27% of those aged 18-24 years, and 34% aged 25-34 years)

And 8% of those questioned admitted to driving while using a video application such as FaceTime and Skype to make and receive video calls, rising to 16% among those aged 18-24 years.

7% admitted to watching videos and ‘catch-up television’ while driving - rising to 13% of those aged 18-24 years and 15% of 25-32 year olds.

9% of all respondents admitted to taking a ‘selfie’ while driving in the last month. This increased to 15% of respondents aged 18-24 years, and 19% of those aged 25-35 years. 5% of female respondents admitted doing so, compared to 12% of males.

A spokesperson for Sussex Safer Roads Partnership said: “It is important to stress that whilst it is the law to not use a mobile phone whilst driving, this campaign is entirely educational.

“The idea is to alert drivers to the law, and spark behavioural change, instead of issuing fines and points.

Studies have shown that drivers using a hands-free or handheld mobile phone are slower at recognising and reacting to hazards. Even careful drivers can be distracted by a call or text – and a split-second lapse in concentration could result in a crash.

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 to stop.

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