Using mobile phones to access social media sites when behind the wheel can be more dangerous than driving under the influence of alcohol, says a new report.
Research undertaken by the Transport Research Laboratory and the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) found that drivers’ reaction times slowed by 38 percent when using their mobile phones to access sites such as Twitter and Facebook whilst controlling a moving vehicle.
In contrast, drivers at the alcohol drink-drive limit have a typical delayed reaction of just 12 percent.
“This research shows how incredibly dangerous using smartphones while driving is, yet unbelievably it is a relatively common practice,” said Simon Best, chief executive at IAM.
In response, police units around the UK have launched an offensive against using social media whilst driving. In Hull, dedicated patrols are to put in place throughout the month, with traffic police briefed to target motorists.
“Smartphones offer us a different challenge as we know people tweet and use Facebook while driving,” said Hull police officer Keith Ward. “When people use social networking sites, they often hold the phone on their lap and are looking down while typing – it’s unbelievable people actually do this when you consider the dangers. We will be keeping a close eye on what drivers are doing and, if anyone is involved in a crash, we will be examining their phones.”
Anyone caught social networking on their phones whilst driving will be given an immediate £60 fine and three penalty points on their license. Alternatively, they can attend a considerate driver course for £95.
“It only takes a second to have a crash,” added PC Ward.