Over two thirds of accidents and almost half of all road deaths occur in our towns and cities*, according to the RAC Foundation, who are today highlighting the dangers of texting whilst driving in urban areas in support of European Road Safety Day** (13)
Recent research by the UK's Transport Research Laboratory commissioned by the RAC Foundation*** found that the dual task of writing a text message whilst driving significantly impaired driving ability. This has serious consequences for town centre and city driving where there are more pedestrians and cyclists.
Reaction times in the simulator study increased from 1.2 to 1.6 seconds when drivers were texting, and their ability to see hazards decreased. Drivers tended to reduce their speeds but in real city driving situations this type of behaviour would cause difficulties.
96% of pedestrian and 93% of cyclist casualties occur in built up areas and 'failure to look' is the single largest contributory factor in accidents, present in 35% of cases*. The Foundation is urging motorists, especially those in London, the North West and West Midlands where urban casualties make up a significant proportion of all road accidents****, to ensure they are not distracted by mobile phones whilst driving.
Elizabeth Dainton, Research Development Manager of the RAC Foundation says:
"The distraction caused by sending or reading text messages whilst driving has serious implications for road safety. Being distracted by a mobile phone significantly reduces a driver's awareness and reaction times."
"On fast changing urban roads, where more people are walking or cycling, texting, even whilst stationary in traffic, can result in distraction that leads to an accident. Where driving is concerned- there's no such thing as safe text"
* Department for Transport (2008) Road Casualty Statistics 2007 Edition
** About European Road Safety Day
The European Union has set itself the target to halve the number of fatalities on our roads - from 54 000 to 27 000 - between 2001 and 2010. In order to raise awareness, to give visibility to best local practices and to offer an opportunity to work together for safer roads in Europe the Commission has established a European Road Safety Day. The second road safety day will be celebrated on 13 October 2008 and will address the subject of "Road Safety in our Cities". The main event will take place in Paris, at the "Espace Grande Arche", in the business district of La Défense. For more information please visit: http://ec.europa.eu/transport/roadsafety/road_safety_days/index_2008_en.htm
*** The Effect of Text Messaging on Driver Behaviour, A simulator study, N. Reed and R. Robbins, Transport Research Laboratory, September 2008
**** Proportion of all casualties by region, occurring on built-up roads. Source: Department for Transport (2008) Road Casualty Statistics 2007 Edition.
North West: 77%
West Midlands: 73%
Yorkshire and Humber: 72%
Average for Great Britain: 68%
North East: 65%
South East: 62%
East Midlands: 58%
South West: 56%
East of England: 55%