Road Safety News

Awareness day highlights dangers of mobile phone use

Thursday 12th May 2016

The My Red Thumb campaign, designed to raise awareness of the risks of using a mobile phone whilst driving, is today (12 May) holding its second annual awareness day.

Developed in the UK by Devon County Council’s road safety team, My Red Thumb sets out to reach as many road users as possible through the use of social media and to use behavioural change techniques to encourage people to change their habits.

The original idea came from a similar campaign in the US which encourages drivers to paint their thumbnail red as a reminder not to use a mobile while driving.

This year, #MyRedThumb has used Thunderclap, a crowdspeaking platform, to propel its message onto social media. With the tweet scheduled to be published at 12.30pm, the campaign has 464 backers with a social reach of more than 400,000 users.

Partners involved in the awareness day include Devon County Council, Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue, Devon & Cornwall Police, Torbay Council, Peninsula Trauma Network, South Western Ambulance Trust, Learn2Live Partnership, Devon Air Ambulance, The Honest Truth Partnership and the Highways England.


Comment on this story
Report a reader comment

What's your view - comment on this story:

I confirm that I have read and accept the moderation policy and house rules relating to comments posted on this website.
Your comment:
Your name and location:
Your email:

Four separate studies by Aston University, IAM/TRL, RAC Foundation & TRL - all concluding that using a mobile phone distracts the driver and is therefore an impediment to safe driving. I suggest this is sufficient evidence to justify a campaign such as the one in this report which reminds drivers of these dangers - unless, of course, you are aware of studies which show that using a mobile phone when driving is not dangerous?
Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety News

Agree (2) | Disagree (0)

Thanks for the links Nick. All led to reports on theoretical laboratory experiments though, and none based on real-world KSI data.

The reason I asked was, given that mobile phone use does not show up as a big issue in the Stats19 data, perhaps, despite the lab-based evidence, they do not lead to dangerous driving. Could this be down to the drivers self-compensating for the suspected effects of using the phone? A tell-tale sign of a driver on the phone is a car going slower than the norm and overly-hesitant junction manoeuvres. I suspect that there is an element of "risk compensation" taking place, perhaps resulting in less of a chance than the lab tests would suggest of having a collision. Given the vast number of drivers I see on the phone each day, I would expect to see crashes happening all over the place because of them.
Charles, England

Agree (4) | Disagree (2)


Some links that may help:

All four studies come to similar conclusions about the danger of distraction caused by using a mobile phone while driving.
Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety News

Agree (2) | Disagree (0)

Don't have specifics to point you at Charles but I'm sure there are studies (perhaps by TRL?) which have used simulators and other methods to show an increased risk of being involved in a collision when using phones (I think both hands free and hand-held?).

Bit like the seat belt question which would generally be answered dishonestly i.e. "of course I was wearing it", not many would admit to being on the phone and I'm not sure the police have the resources to check records for every collision on the roads in the UK so not sure it is possible to get accurate crash data involving phone use?

I would personally expect to be able to spend a lot of time crash-free driving whilst on a mobile phone but stop myself from doing so because I am aware that if I did crash I would hurt someone else. I have agreed to give up something I would perhaps benefit from because of the need to consider others. Oh and the chance of a fine/points puts me off as well - despite the low chance of being detected!!
Nick, Lancashire

Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

No, I think we've used our common sense and our own eyes on this one Charles.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (2) | Disagree (6)

Are any of the participants here aware of any scientific studies showing mobile phone users to be over represented in the UK KSI collision data (or even under represented)? Or is this yet another "common sense"-based rather than evidence-based road safety fear?
Charles, England

Agree (6) | Disagree (4)

And when asked to defend their salaries the presenters will tell you just how difficult it is to sit in front of a camera and make a case or explain a situation.

I have complained several times. Its an appalling example of how they can be verbalising a road safety message yet by their body language undermine the same message completely.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us, Cheshire

Agree (6) | Disagree (3)

Had a response from the BBC stating that they do have a strict policy on driving whilst presenting, which is that the presenter should not take their eyes off the road for longer than necessary and both hands should always be on the wheel. Brilliant - that's that sorted then. No mention of why it's necessary to present whilst driving in the first place.
Hugh Jones

Agree (5) | Disagree (1)

There was an item on Friday's The One Show about the dangers of distraction when driving and texting and this was all explained to us, the viewer, very earnestly by the presenter - whilst she was actually driving and having taking her eyes off the road to look at the camera. Doh. A complaint has gone to the BBC.
Hugh Jones

Agree (10) | Disagree (2)