Video Calling Drivers Pose New Road Traffic Accident Risk

Author:
Simon Stanfield
Partner, Head of Road Traffic Accidents
Date:
27/11/2020

Our Road Traffic Accident Solicitors have seen the devastating consequences of people driving while using a mobile phone many times. So we were alarmed with the findings of a recent survey by the RAC showing that nearly one in ten British drivers make video calls while driving.

Worryingly, this trend is most apparent among young drivers, with almost one in five 17 to 24-year-olds admitting to making or receiving video calls while driving.

Young drivers are already involved in a disproportionately high number of road traffic accidents, so it’s very concerning to see that a new and potentially deadly habit is creeping in among this group, and increasing the danger for other road users and pedestrians alike.

At the moment, the law in the UK contains a loophole that allows drivers to play games or take photos while using a mobile phone, and only making phone calls and sending text messages are banned. But next year, this loophole will be closed, and it will become illegal for a motorist to pick up their phone behind their wheel.

The way we use our phones has changed beyond recognition since rules on driving with a mobile were first put in place in 2003, so it makes sense that the law changes too to reflect people’s behaviour. These tougher limits can’t come soon enough if we’re to prevent more life-changing injuries and fatal accidents taking place on our roads.

Using a mobile phone while driving is extremely dangerous, even for a second, as it distracts people on the road. I’ve seen the devastating impacts of this on families on too many occasions, and how it sadly changes lives forever.

More Drivers Talking on Phone

The increasing number of drivers using video calling apps behind the wheel coincides with a surge in the number of people speaking on their phone behind the wheel. Nearly one in three drivers of all ages said they make or receive calls on handheld phones while driving - the highest amount in four years.

Again, it’s younger drivers fuelling this problem, with 42% of 17 to 24-year-olds breaking the law in this way. Similarly, almost one in ten drivers in this age group are playing games on their phones while driving.

These are alarming and frightening statistics, and go some way to explaining why other drivers’ use of mobile phones is one of the biggest concerns among British motorists, behind only the condition of roads in their area.

In fact, nearly 32% described mobile phones as an issue that worries them, and a remarkable 79% said they support using camera technology in cars to catch drivers breaking the law.

While many might resist the idea of some form of surveillance, it’s interesting to see that so many are fully in favour of it if it helps to make the roads safer.

Many other countries already use camera-based technologies in cars to catch drivers who are risking both their own and other people’s safety. Perhaps a greater chance of being caught in the act could encourage a behaviour change among those who think nothing of using their phone on the road.

Motorists can’t pay full attention to the countless hazards around them if they’re looking at a screen, talking to their friends, checking app notifications and playing games.

It’s been illegal in the UK for more than a decade, and penalties have got substantially tougher during this period. But it appears much more still needs to be done to lead to a serious culture change about the use of mobile phones in cars.

Otherwise, we’re going to see many more avoidable deaths and serious injuries taking place on British roads, and many unfortunate people continuing to have their lives turned upside down through no fault of their own.

At Simpson Millar, our Road Traffic Accident Solicitors offer free legal advice for people injured in all types of road accidents. Many of the claims we deal with are funded through a No Win, No Fee agreement.

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