This post is in collaboration with Kwikfit.
We all know how dangerous it is to use our mobile while driving. We have, by now, surely all seen those horrible Facebook videos showing precisely what happens when attention is diverted from the road. The consequences are frequently life-changing injuries or death – and often to innocent parties.
The blocking of notifications on your iPhone is all too easy to ignore. Just press the “I’m Not Driving” bar and off you go.
As we walk the kids to school, it never fails to surprise me how many road users still drive with a phone clamped to one ear or do that thing where they have a phone in their lap so they can keep texting in the deluded belief that nobody knows exactly what they’re doing. We do!
In New South Wales, Australia this week it was announced that new roadside cameras have been launched which can detect if someone is using a mobile phone on the roads. Every car passing through the location will be snapped and artificial intelligence deployed to determine which drivers were using their mobiles. The current fine for this is $344 Australian Dollars (around £180).
Since 1 March 2017 in the UK, the penalty for using a mobile phone whilst driving is six points on your licence and a £200 fine.
So why do we do it? Mobile phone addiction is real, I’d suggest. Our phones connect us to the world around us to a greater extent each year. For many, their mobile is a lifeline – allowing them to do their job, have a social life and in some case run their entire life.
The problem is that we think we are great drivers perfectly capable of multi-tasking. After all, we’ve driven for years so there’s no particular danger in taking an eye off the road for a few seconds to punch a few letters onto a text screen.
Or is there? And then, of course, there’s sat-nav.
For me, sat nav is a godsend. If you suffer from anxiety, hate driving or just can’t read a map, your mobile satnav is a lifeline that helps you to sort out playdates, collect recalcitrant tweens and find remote holiday destinations. Sat nav these days tells you the fastest route and can help you avoid traffic congestion, roadworks and speed cameras. They can be a valuable source of traffic information with live updates telling you the fastest route. It’s not too great an exaggeration to say that without it, I’d travel about far less.
But using satnav will you drive is just as risky as texting and calling on the road. We think that because it has a justifiable purpose then it must be OK – but sadly that just isn’t the case.
So for all of you who are convinced you can drive and text or navigate comfortably with one eye on the satnav and one on the windscreen, Kwikfit has just launched a fascinating test which proves that you definitely can’t.
In research undertaken by the company, 19% of the surveyed drivers admitted that they sometimes take calls while driving, 17% admit that they read texts off of their phone, and 12% send texts.
So, to see just how sharp you truly are when your attention is diverted from the road, take the Kwikfit Driven To Distraction test here.
Click when you see the stop sign to gauge your general reaction time, then take the test again to see what happens when you have to answer road safety questions at the same time as looking out for the stop sign.
Sounds easy, right? Here was my result.
So how will you do? Give the test ago and share your results!
Just a moment’s glance away can have far-reaching consequences.
So what can we do to improve safety for ourselves and other road users? I can’t see us all going back to OS maps anytime soon.
Currently, it’s legal to use your mobile as a sat nav, as long as it has secure, hands-free access and it does not block your view of the road or traffic ahead. You can be prosecuted if the phone is touched whilst driving. So you can’t hold your mobile and use it as a sat-nav.
Make sure you buy a suitable cradle, holder or magnetic mount for your phone.
Programme your destination BEFORE you drive. You should be parked up when you do this. If you need to change your route whilst you drive then you should pull over and park safely.
It’s a toss-up between Apple Maps and Google Maps. We use both and find their performance varies according to where we are in the UK.
Apple Maps is the default sat nav app for IOS devices and it also supports public transport directions if you walk or cycle. You can use Siri to set directions too.
Google Maps is the default sat nav app for android devices but it’s still the one I use on my iPhone. Just don’t expect any Welsh pronunciations to be spot on!
Either way, now that the nights are dark and the cold winter weather is on its way with ice and frost, you’ll need all your attention on the road.
Perhaps the safest thing is to let your passenger give you directions from their phone.