'It's your call!' - Mobile Phone campaign launched

A road safety campaign has been launched today by the Safer Roads Partnership in West Mercia, targeting motorists across Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin. The campaign highlights the potential consequences of using a mobile phone whilst driving and will feature on bus backs throughout the region.

Recent research shows that using a mobile phone whilst driving means you are four times more likely to be involved in a collision. Using any type of mobile phone, whether it's handsfree or handheld, means that reaction times can be worse than those driving under the influence of alcohol. Tests have shown that reaction times are slower by as much as 50%.

Using a handheld mobile phone while driving is illegal and the maximum penalty is £60 and 3 penalty points, although if the case goes to court this can be a maximum fine of £1,000 (£2,500 for buses, coaches and HGV drivers) and disqualification. There is also the onward costs of increased insurance premiums.

The only safe way to take a call while you are in the car is to only use your phone when safely parked or if you are a passenger.

Steve Chadwick, Senior Road Safety Officer, Shropshire County Council said:

"If you are driving, keep the phone switched off, use your voicemail or message service. Even using a hands – free can be a distraction because your mind will not be fully on driving but on the conversation. If you must use your phone then stop in a safe place, not on a motorway hard shoulder".

Cllr Miles Hoskins, Cabinet spokesperson on Transport, Telford & Wrekin Council said:

"Some of the collisions on our roads are caused by people who make genuine mistakes, but if anyone chooses to use a mobile phone when they are driving this is not a mistake. It is a deliberately dangerous act and puts other people in danger. We need everyone to do their bit to keep our roads safe, so if you're driving, for safety's sake, switch your phone off".

Sergeant John Roberts, from West Mercia Constabulary said:

"Having a mobile with you in case of an emergency is obviously extremely beneficial, however research shows that drivers using mobile phones while driving are four times more likely to be involved in a collision. It is against the law to use a hand held mobile phone while driving and this includes making or receiving calls and sending or reading text messages when you are on the move, stationary at traffic lights or stuck in a queue. Prosecution guidelines also mean that if a motorist is involved in a collision while using a hand held mobile phone, they could be prosecuted for careless or dangerous driving. Both these offences carry severe penalties and can result in the driver being sent to prison."

Ashley Brown, Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service said:

"Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service are committed to lowering the number of people killed or injured on the roads in Shropshire. The act of using a mobile phone for either calls or texting can prove to be fatal. Each year too many people are killed or injured in collisions which the use of a mobile phone is a key factor in the collision. We urge people to think about the consequences of making or receiving that call or text when driving."

6th February, 2009