The dangers of texting whilst driving are being brought to the attention of young people through a variety of campaigns. This week a video released by the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has gone viral which depicts a young American driver being killed because she picked up her phone to answer a text. Similarly, West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service have launched a campaign called Safe Drive Stay Alive – a series of clips being shown to teenagers which highlight the dangers of a number of common driving hazards including texting whilst driving.
Studies have shown that texting at the wheel causes more deaths in teenage drivers than drink-driving suggesting that this is a problem that needs to be addressed. Unfortunately texting does not carry the same stigma as drink-driving with campaigns on safe driving mainly targeting drink and drugs whilst driving.
It is illegal to use a hand-held phone whilst driving; a motorist caught doing so can be prosecuted for careless or dangerous driving and even face 7 or more years imprisonment if someone is killed in an accident due to the texting.
However, until a nationwide campaign is launched highlighting the dangers of texting behind the wheel it is unlikely that many drivers, in particular young drivers, will refrain from texting whilst driving.