Should Britain’s smartphone addiction be a concern for national road safety?

Written by: Abaranji Sivakumar, Last updated:27th August 2020

Should Britain’s smartphone addiction be a concern for national road safety?

A report illustrating the extent of the nation’s mobile phone addiction has raised concerns over road safety in the UK.

According to research published by communications watchdog Ofcom, smartphone owners cannot go 12 minutes without checking their phone, while almost two-thirds describe their mobile device as an essential part of their lives.

Being stuck at the lights or in slow moving traffic means many motorists could struggle to resist the temptation to check their phone, but road safety groups urge drivers to stay focused.

Devastating impact

Road safety charity Brake has expressed concerns about the report’s findings and the devastating impact UK’s mobile phone addiction could have on road safety.

“This ‘addiction’ can have deadly consequences if people can’t leave their phones alone whilst driving,” said Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake.

“A split-second distraction caused by a call, text or notification behind the wheel can be fatal.”

Getting worse

Figures from the Department for Transport show that in 2016, 32 people were killed and 105 seriously injured in crashes involving a driver being distracted by their mobile phone.

Mr Harris believes the problem is getting worse every year, adding: “Illegal mobile phone use behind the wheel is all too common and action needs to be taken to rid our roads of this dangerous menace.”

He says the government needs to invest in greater awareness, more enforcement and tougher punishment of people who illegally use their phone at the wheel to provide an effective deterrent.

Jez Strong, general manager for Tele-Gence, commented: “Fortunately, most drivers appreciate the fact that no call, text or social media update is worth risking anyone’s life for.”