UK campaign launched to stop text driving


Radical short campaign film, Cadence, premieres to highlight the subject

More than two million car passengers would do nothing if their driver used a handheld phone whilst driving, according to new research for the AA Charitable Trust. To help combat this, the AA Trust has launched a hard-hitting campaign today, to try to change attitudes and behaviours around driver distraction.

The Government intends to increase the penalties for using a mobile at the wheel to six penalty points and a £200 fine but the AA Trust believes changing behaviour is just as important.

Latest Government figures from the Department for Transport [2016] show a 35% increase in fatalities on built-up roads. The report said that there had been 200 fatalities on roads with a maximum of 40mph between April and June 2016, compared to 148 deaths for the same period in 2015. A total of 24,620 people were killed or seriously injured in the year ending June 2016, up 3% compared to the previous year, the figures show. For the same period, deaths of car occupants rose by 9% and pedestrians by 3%.

Edmund King OBE, AA Trust director, said: “The hike in fatalities on built-up roads by more than a third, is staggering and may be due to driver inattention from excessive use of mobile phones at the wheel.”

In order to stop these avoidable deaths, the AA Trust is embarking on a yearlong campaign to change behaviour. The campaign kicks off with the launch of a new film, ‘Cadence’. A young filmmaker became so uncomfortable by her peers’ driving and use of mobiles at the wheel that she has produced Cadence, a film with a safety twist, thanks to funding from the AA Charitable Trust. The University of Derby and Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service also helped the AA Charitable Trust in the production of the film.

An AA Populus poll of 23,141 drivers [September 2016] asked, ‘Which of the following would you do if you were a passenger and your driver used their handheld mobile when driving?’ Respondents said: ask them to stop using phone, 59%; offer to take the call, 50%; take the phone away, 12%; refuse to get in car with them again, 8%; report them to police, 1% (203 people); nothing, but would be annoyed, 5% (1096 people); nothing, won’t bother me, 1% (288 people).

Meanwhile, a Populus poll of 26,463 AA members in January 2016 found that more than one in ten (13%) young drivers (18 to 24 years) find it difficult to ignore a message or email alert on their phones while driving. Overall 6% of drivers find this difficult.

An overwhelming 98% of panel members said they had ever seen other drivers using handheld mobile phones when driving. This figure remains roughly the same as when this question was previously asked in August 2012 (99%).

One fifth (20%) claim to see other drivers on handheld mobiles on every journey they make, with a further fifth (22%) claiming they see this on most journeys and 56% on some journeys; more men than women claim to see this on every journey (23% versus 13%).

Respondents in London seem to see usage of handheld mobiles more frequently, with a quarter (25%) claiming they see this on every journey. Just over half (56%) claim to see other drivers using handheld mobiles on some journeys.

King commented: “Despite horrific and tragic deaths caused by drivers distracted by phones, the problem is still rife. This epidemic of handheld mobile phone use while driving has already cost lives and drivers have demanded action. Three quarters of drivers see others using mobile phones on some or most journeys, with one quarter seeing it on every journey, according to our polls. Our campaign aims to change attitudes but it must be supported by tougher penalties and more cops in cars.”

Emmeline Kellie, who wrote, starred in and produced Cadence, felt compelled to do so after becoming such a nervous car passenger with many of her friends because they were always using their mobile phones behind the wheel.

Kellie, who graduated from the University of Derby in Media Production, said: “I saw a road safety presentation when I was at school and it really struck a chord with me. Roads make me nervous so I delayed driving for quite a while because I was too scared to take my life into my own hands, but as my friends started using their phones more and more at the wheel, it became clear that I would be safer driving myself.

“People just don’t realise it only takes one moment to glance at a text and it can all go wrong behind the wheel; and that it only needs to go wrong once,” added Kellie.

The film premieres at the Derby Quad cinema. It will be targeted at social media users, schools, colleges and talks have begun with the Department for Transport Think! campaign and the police for use on educational courses.

The film also features young London based musician Luke Pickett. Pickett also stars in Cadence, which features two of his songs, one of which is to be released as a single; he also wrote the score for the film. Pickett said: “I was keen to work on the Cadence project as it is an unconventional approach to road safety and hopefully will help to save lives.”

Watch Cadence here:


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