UK: Don’t Cause A Traffic Accident By Texting & Driving

Last Updated: 12 December 2012
Article by Jim Loxley

My Compensation team-member Stephen Ince wrote up a London news story whereby a lorry driver had been making his way through Tottenham High Road and accidentally crashed his heavy goods vehicle into a signpost on the pavement. The collision saw his HGV knocking down a mother and son in process. Had the signpost not been there, the two claimants may well have died or sustained considerably more serious injuries in the accident. One of the problems with texting while driving is that it seems a lot less serious than it is. Quickly sending the message and taking eyes of the road just momentarily doesn't seem like such a harmful thing to do. As our news story demonstrated, this is far from the truth.

It only takes one incident to occur on the road in traffic in front, causing vehicles to slow down and, at that point, you don't have the most up-to-date information regarding what's happening in front of your car's bumper. By the time you look up, it could be too late. In some cases, this could claim someone's life. Just think about how you'd feel if you'd knocked over a small child because you couldn't wait a few minutes to send a text message.

Using a Phone While Driving: Facts and Legislation

It's estimated that you are up to 4 times more likely to be involved in a car crash if you're using a mobile phone in some way whilst driving. If you were to make a call using your hands, your reaction speed would drop by a massive 50% compared to if you were focusing on the road as normal. It only takes a momentary lapse in concentration before you've collided into something. As far as the law is concerned, it is illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving on the road. If a police officer catches you driving whilst using the phone, they are able to issue a fine and even provoke your license whether accidental damage is caused or not.

Texting while driving is a considerably more dangerous activity than it may initially seem.

If your insurance company catches wind of the fact that you've been in trouble for this reason, your motor insurance premiums could go up. A report by Which? magazine showed that insurance premiums increased by as much as 20% and some car insurers even refused to cover drivers who engaged in this practice. Three points will be added to your license and an automatic fixed penalty of £60 will be issued.

While this fine may sound like you get away relatively lightly, it can be decided that further prosecutions are necessary. If for example a road traffic accident may have happened as a result of your irresponsible action, a fine of either £1,000 or up to £2,500 could be issued, with the latter sum reserved for larger vehicles.

Voice-activated Text Messaging

Really, you should never text and drive under any circumstances. This is the My Compensation road safety recommendation. If you must use your phone in anyway, pull over and stop the car. The below information is not meant to encourage texting and driving. However, people are likely to do so anyway. If you own an iPhone 4S or newer Apple model, it has a function called Siri. Siri will allow you to text a person using your voice to dictate the message onto your phone. There is a Youtube video here by a US News reporter to illustrate this and, as in the sources below, some places in the world are making it legal as long you don't touch your phone while in your vehicle.

This technology is not yet perfect. However, adjusting the softness and volume of your voice while in the safety of your home, you will find equilibrium whereby it can be very accurate with a little practice and you could send a message without taking your eyes off the road. Practice this before getting in a car so you're familiar with it. The fact remains that this is a distraction from your driving nonetheless, even though it allows you to keep your eyes on the road. The My Compensation team can't overstress the importance of pulling over before using a phone. Safety should always come first.

Sources:

http://www.mercurynews.com/california/ci_21073057/new-law-allows-hands-free-texting-while-driving

http://think.direct.gov.uk/mobile-phones.html

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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