PUT THE PHONE DOWN AND FO­CUS

Sur­vey finds most use phones while be­hind the wheel

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - By Ma­hak Man­nan and Nawal Al Ramahi @7DAYSUAE news@7days.ae

A sur­vey de­signed to lift the lid on mo­bile phone use at the wheel has found three-quar­ters of mo­torists have made calls or checked mes­sages while driv­ing.

YouGov car­ried out a na­tion­wide sur­vey for Road­Safe­tyUAE of more than 1,000 res­i­dents and found 74 per cent ad­mit­ted talk­ing on the phone while on the roads.

Al­though many said it was on oc­ca­sion, some 20 per cent ad­mit­ted they did so “al­most ev­ery time I drive” or on a ma­jor­ity of jour­neys.

A sub­stan­tial ma­jor­ity said they do use hands free rather than hold a hand­set, but Thomas Edel­mann, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of Road­Safe­tyUAE, said it makes lit­tle dif­fer­ence.

He said: “There is no sig­nif­i­cant ad­van­tage in any form in us­ing hands free, it does not help with be­ing safe. Your mind is still off the road while mak­ing con­ver­sa­tion.”

Mo­bile use causes a range of dis­trac­tions, ac­cord­ing to Road­Safe­tyUAE: man­ual dis­trac­tion (hands off wheel); vis­ual dis­trac­tion (eyes off the road); dis­trac­tion of the mind; and au­di­tory dis­trac­tion (tak­ing ears away from traf­fic sound). Edel­mann added: “If you think log­i­cally, the only thing you may not be do­ing from the dis­trac­tion is tak­ing your hands off the wheel, which is not a big dif­fer­ence.”

Fred­erik Bis­b­jerg, Ex­ec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent of QIC In­sured, which took part in the study, said: “For UAE’s mo­torists we have a very clear mes­sage: when driv­ing, put your mo­bile phone in silent and put it away.” Saif Muhair Al Mazroui, Di­rec­tor of Traf­fic

Depart­ment at Dubai Po­lice, said officers have al­ready asked the au­thor­i­ties for higher penal­ties for phone-us­ing mo­torists.

He said: “It is alarm­ing and we have seen an in­crease in the num­ber of mo­torists fined due to the use of mo­bile phones.

“The force has also asked the Fed­eral Traf­fic Coun­cil to raise fines from Dhs200 to Dhs1,000 and the num­ber of black points from four to 12.”

Phil Clarke, Prin­ci­pal Consultant at the Trans­port Re­search Lab­o­ra­tory’s UAE of­fice, warned that any task in­volv­ing the hold­ing of a de­vice, look­ing at it or in­ter­act­ing with will ad­versely affect driv­ing.

He said re­search shows talk­ing on a phone can slow re­ac­tion time more than drink­ing al­co­hol.

Clarke said: “Talk­ing while driv­ing af­fects cog­ni­tive, au­di­ble and ex­po­sure time on the road.”

‘There is no sig­nif­i­cant ad­van­tage in any form in us­ing hands free - your mind is still off the road.’ – Thomas Edel­mann, Road Safety UAE

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