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Road safety charity Brake has launched a campaign that appeals to drivers to turn off their phones or put them in the boot, and urges everyone to refuse to speak on the phone to someone who’s driving, even if they are using a hands free kit.

It is being launched a decade after hand-held mobiles were banned at the wheel, and coincides with a week-long enforcement campaign.

Brake, and partners Specsavers and Romex, are revealing statistics confirming the extent of driver distraction on UK roads, and its impact on vulnerable road users:

  • More than half a million UK drivers (575,000) have points on their licence for using their mobile phone at the wheel or being otherwise distracted (available by region and postcode). One in 15 (6.5%) of these drivers have six points or more for driving distracted and four in five (78%) are male [1].
  • Six in ten children (62%) report being driven by a driver talking on a phone and nearly eight in 10 (79%) have spotted drivers on mobile phones outside their school or home “suggesting the majority of children are being endangered by drivers for the sake of a call or text.

The campaign is being supported by the Association of Chief Police Officers, who are coordinating a week-long campaign of heightened police enforcement across the country targeting drivers on hand-held phones.

Distraction reduces hazard perception and increases reaction times in a similar way to drink-driving, making drivers much more likely to cause deaths and injuries.

The tune in to road safety campaign is being launched in Road Safety Week by events and demonstrations in schools, universities and town centres across the UK, highlighting the dangers of taking your eyes, hands or mind off the road

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of Brake, said: “We’re living in an age when being constantly connected is the norm; more and more of us have smartphones, and find it hard to switch off, even for a minute. While there are enormous benefits to this new technology, it’s also posing dangerous temptations to drivers to divert their concentration away from the critical task at hand, often putting our most vulnerable road users in danger.

Many people who wouldn’t dream of drink-driving are succumbing to using their phone and other distractions while driving, oblivious that the effect can be similar and the consequences just as horrific. We’re calling on UK drivers to tune into road safety: turn off your phone or put it in the boot, and never try to multi-task at the wheel. We’re also appealing to everyone to refuse to chat to someone on the phone who’s driving, to help them arrive safely.

We are also calling on the Government to do more to tackle driver distraction, by extending the ban to hands-free phones at the wheel, and further upping fines for the potentially deadly offence of driving distracted.”