You may recall that earlier this year we wrote a blog about the new driving laws that came in to effect on 1st March, which saw tougher penalties for those caught using their mobile devices whilst behind the wheel.
According to information published at the end of May, it would appear these harsher sanctions are not having a huge impact on the number of people behaving themselves whilst driving. In fact, between 1st March and 28th March (the four weeks immediately following the revised rules) a total of 6,000 motorists were caught red handed.
That equates to one driver being stopped every seven minutes for illegal use of a mobile device.
If every offender was fully penalised, and received a £200 fine as standard, that’s a whopping £1,200,000 raised in four weeks!
If any of those individuals were caught for a second time, they’d be facing a £1,000 fine and up to a six-month immediate ban.
Why then, when we know it’s illegal, dangerous and can incur penalties (let alone the risk of life and injury) do so many of us continue to text and drive?
It only takes a second
Many of us believe that texting isn’t such a big deal. After all, it only takes a second to reply to a text.
Now just ask yourself, when was the last time it took you a second to respond to a text when you didn’t have any other distractions? The reality is, it’s more likely to take you at least five seconds. That’s five seconds when your eyes aren’t on the road. At all.
Anything that takes your eyes off the road for more than two seconds is too long. A lot can change. Even if you are entirely in control of what you are doing (and let’s be honest, you can’t guarantee that), there’s no saying what other road users might be up to whilst you’re not watching them!
You’re gonna have to face it, you’re addicted to text
The largest problem is that we are addicted to texting. Whilst it might sound melodramatic, research has shown that texting increases dopamine levels, which means we essentially feel like we are receiving a chemical reward for engaging in this behaviour.
As social animals, driven by our need to be with and accepted by the herd, we will always seek out communication. Texting and interaction on social media is just an extension of this, and something we will always hold as a priority.
What can you do about it?
If you genuinely don’t see the problem, and still believe it only takes a second, then it’s clear you don’t have the willpower to simply ignore your phone whilst it’s by your side.
That’s fine. We all have our weaknesses and it’s not our place to judge. However, we would quite like you, and other road users, to be safe.
So why not put your phone somewhere you genuinely can’t reach it? Keep it in a bag in the boot, or perhaps your glove compartment? No message is that important you should die reading or responding to it.