BRAKE’s annual spotlight on Road Safety starts from 20 November this year and Exchange and Mart is embracing this opportunity to remind drivers to put their phones down to save lives. Exchange and Mart figures* show that 28% of motorists admit to using their phone while driving, which makes them four times more likely to be in a crash**. Crucially, Exchange and Mart reminds drivers that using a mobile device while driving is illegal, as well as extremely dangerous.

Fear of missing out (FOMO) is a modern phenomenon that keeps people glued to their phones and mobile devices, in case they miss something on social media or don’t reply to calls and messages quick enough. This could be a large part of what drives nearly 1 in 3 motorists to knowingly flout the law by using their devices while driving. Despite so many falling foul of ‘device driving’, 69% of people Exchange and Mart surveyed believe the penalties are right for those caught in the act.

The top reason for using a phone, according to Exchange and Mart’s research is making or receiving a call (61%). Unsurprisingly, Google Maps came second, with 32% turning to their phones for navigation, whilst texting was number three for 32%. Whilst 25-44 year old drivers are more likely to use their phone while driving, 18-24 year-olds take a riskier approach and prefer to text.

There are a worrying amount of people who admit to browsing the internet while driving, with 18% of motorists saying they do this and 55-64 year-olds the most likely group to be guilty. Selecting music (14%) and checking social media (11%) are the other main distractions for drivers.

In March this year, penalties for holding and using a phone while driving increased to six points and a £200 fine, but this appears to not be enough to deter drivers from committing the crime. Exchange and Mart is calling motorists to back the THINK! Campaign, run by the Department for Transport, and the RAC’s Be Phone Smart promise, both of which appeal to drivers to put their phones away while driving or switch their phones to ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode, to remove the distraction completely. For ultimate ease, Apple users running iOS 11 now have access via their phone dashboard to a new safety feature called ‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’.

Lynn Clark, Brand Manager for Exchange and Mart explains: “Many drivers clearly still seem to think that using a mobile phone is harmless. The harsh reality is that mobile phone usage by drivers remains one of most common causes of road traffic accidents in the UK. Road Safety Week offers motorists the perfect opportunity to focus on the road instead of their phones, as part of an effort to become safer drivers. Anyone with an iPhone should make sure they use the Do Not Disturb While Driving function and others can just use the glove box to keep their device out of sight and hopefully, out of mind. No phone call or text is worth a road accident.”

Exchange and Mart has launched www.exchangeandmart/distracted-driving to help raise awareness of the issue, offering tips on how to ignore the distractions.