PUT THE PHONE DOWN AND FOCUS
Survey finds most use phones while behind the wheel
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