Police have warned drivers about the dangers of using their mobile phone whilst driving as part of a national campaign running this week.
It is the first of two campaigns this year, with the purpose being to draw drivers’ attention to not only the risks posed by being distracted by mobile phones while in control of a vehicle, but the serious penalties which they will face if they are caught.
Speaking about the campaign Inspector Rosie Leech said: “More and more people have mobile phones, smart phones and mobile devices now which they find difficult to switch off, even for a minute.
Drivers are easily distracted by a phone call or text message. If your attention is drawn to your phone you will not register or react as quickly to hazards on the road and drivers need to realise they cannot concentrate on the road and their mobile phone.
“The numbers of motorists using mobile phones to make calls, texts or social media updates whilst driving has risen and distracted driving is expected to be the biggest single cause of death and injuries on roads as a result in 2015.
Using a mobile phone whilst driving increases the risk of a collision by a factor of four, and driving ability is reduced to something similar to that observed for drivers at the legal alcohol limit.
“This campaign is being run to remind drivers not only the risk posed by being distracted by these mobile devices whilst in control of a vehicle, but also the serious penalties and consequences they will face for breaking the law.”
Commenting further Inspector Rosie Leech said: “If you use your phone when driving, at best your call or text could cost you a £60 fine, three penalty points on your driving licence which would also then result in higher insurance costs. At worst it could cost a life. Could you live with that on your conscience?”
“My advice to you today is switch your mobile phone off before you start your journey even if you have a hands free device in your vehicle. Whilst using a hands free kit is not illegal in Northern Ireland, research has convincingly shown that phone conversations impair driving performance resulting in significantly poorer driving performance with regard to speed control, warning detection and response. Don’t take the chance, no call or text is that important. Switch your phone off so you are not tempted or if you do leave your phone switched on do not answer it if it rings or if you receive a text message. Wait until you are safely parked up and your engine is switched off before answering or replying.
“Remember answering that call or text could cost someone their life because of a moment’s inattention. That is a penalty too far.”