Belfast Telegraph

New adverts alert drivers over the dangers of being distracted

By Linda Stewart

Two shocking new road safety advertisements will highlight how distracted drivers can cause fatalities.

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan yesterday announced the DoE ads, saying driver carelessness or inattention is consistently the main cause of deaths on our roads.

Over the last five years 116 people have lost their lives due to driver carelessness — nearly 40% of the total number of deaths, 298, from 2010 to 2014.

The first ad, entitled Friends, will be shown on television and  targets young drivers carrying young passengers. It uses sports scenes to illustrate how someone can miss a goal or a putt when distracted, and then highlights the fatal consequences of a driver being distracted.

The second ad, entitled Missing, will go out on social media and highlights what can happen in those two seconds when a driver looks at the incoming text on their mobile phone.

Between 2010 and 2014 four people were killed or seriously injured and 26 suffered injuries on roads where the use of a mobile phone was deemed the principal cause. When other causes are included, the figures grow to 16 killed or seriously injured, and 65 slight injuries.

The 2013 Northern Ireland Road Safety Monitor reported that over a third (36%) of motorists report using a mobile phone while driving, (5% hand-held, 28% hands-free and 3% sometimes hand-held or hands-free).

Mr Durkan said: “Distraction is our key focus in these ads given the high number of people who have lost their lives due to it. Young passengers and young drivers can be a lethal combination.

“Young drivers are particularly susceptible to distraction, especially when driving with other young people. What we are clearly saying here is that the car is not a mobile living room.

“Young drivers often don’t have the confidence to challenge horseplay, and succumb to group peer pressure so that they don’t spoil the fun. My message to them is: do have the confidence to say ‘wise up’.  Your car, your rules.”   Mr Durkan said there was widespread acceptance mobile phones were distracting and potentially dangerous while driving. 

“But addiction to mobile phones seems to override this rational understanding.  Drivers know that they shouldn’t, yet they continue to do it,” he said. Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said: “The frightening reality is that the scenes depicted in these ads happen with alarming regularity.

“Avoidable collisions which have killed and seriously injured people have occurred, in part, because a driver has not been paying proper attention to driving, whether that means being distracted by passengers or using a mobile phone.

 “We all share the responsibility to prevent deaths on our roads. Slow down, wear a seatbelt, drive with greater care and attention, turn the mobile phone off and never drive after drinking or taking drugs.”

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