Schools and colleges get involved in Road Safety Week to promote 'tune in to road safety' campaign

As charity reveals majority of children are being endangered by drivers on phones

A national campaign launched today (18 Nov) by the charity Brake at the start of Road Safety Week is calling on drivers to tune into road safety and avoid multi-tasking at the wheel, to protect children and other vulnerable road users. It appeals to drivers to turn off their phones or put them in the boot, and urges everyone to refuse to speak on the phone to someone who's driving, and stay focused however they're using roads.

Brake, and partners Specsavers and Romex, are revealing statistics showing the extent of driver distraction on UK roads and that the majority of children are being endangered by drivers for the sake of a call or text:

  • In a survey of 13,000 school children, six in 10 (62%) report being driven by a driver talking on a phone and nearly eight in 10 (79%) have spotted drivers on mobile phones outside their school or home [1].
  • More than half a million UK drivers (575,000) have points on their licence for using their mobile phone at the wheel or being otherwise distracted (see area breakdown). One in 15 (6.5%) of these drivers have six points or more for driving distracted and four in five (78%) are male [2];

The campaign is being launched a decade after hand-held phones were banned at the wheel, with the help of schools, colleges and universities across the UK. Eight regional launch events are taking place with demonstrations and activities involving students showing the impact of distractions (see details below). The campaign is being supported by the Association of Chief Police Officers, who are coordinating a week-long campaign of heightened police enforcement across the country targeting drivers on hand-held phones.

More than 5,500 educators across the UK have registered to take part in Road Safety Week, to raise road safety awareness and campaign for safer roads. Activities range from road safety assemblies, lessons and art projects, to cycling training, to safe driving bulletins for parents, to campaign events and demonstrations promoting the ‘tune in' message. (See how schools got involved in previous years here.)

Brake is calling on all schools, nurseries and colleges to get behind the tune in campaign and work with Brake to promote life-saving road safety awareness among parents, pupils and local drivers, by:

  • backing the campaign at www.roadsafetyweek.org.uk and promoting the tune in message through the school newsletter, noticeboards or website, using free downloadable tune in materials;
  • secondary schools and colleges challenging young people to create an advert promoting the tune in campaign or another road safety issue, and entering Brake's 2young2die competition;
  • primary schools registering for Brake's Giant Walking Bus (11 June 2014) - a road safety march promoting the importance of kids being able to walk safely;
  • nurseries and infant schools signing up to run a Beep Beep! Day (on any day) - to engage 2-7 year-olds in the road safety basics through fun activities, and raise awareness among parents;
  • making use of Brake's guide to teaching road safety at www.brake.org.uk/educators to run lessons and assemblies raising awareness among pupils about the importance of tuning in to road safety.

The tune in to road safety campaign is being launched in Road Safety Week by events and demonstrations in schools, universities and town centres across the UK, highlighting the dangers of taking your eyes, hands or mind off the road. It is being supported by families who have suffered the horror of a bereavement or serious injury in a distracted driving crash and want to speak out. 

Distraction reduces hazard perception and increases reaction times in a similar way to drink-driving, making drivers much more likely to cause deaths and injuries. Drivers who think they can multi-task are fooling themselves: research shows 98% are unable to divide their time without it affecting performance. Talking on a phone hand-held or hands free, texting, emailing, adjusting sat navs, eating, drinking and smoking are all proven to increase crash risk. More facts about driver distraction below.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, the road safety charity: "We're living in an age when being constantly connected is the norm; more and more of us have smartphones, and find it hard to switch off, even for a minute. While there are major benefits to this technology, it's posing a dangerous temptation to drivers to divert their concentration away from the critical task at hand, often putting children and other vulnerable road users at risk. Many people who wouldn't dream of drink-driving - including parents with their kids in the car - are succumbing to using their phone and other distractions while driving, oblivious that the effect can be similar and consequences just as horrific." 

"We're calling on drivers to tune into road safety: turn off your phone or put it in the boot, and stay focused on the road. If you attempt to multi-task at the wheel, even if you feel in control, you're posing a terrible danger, including to kids. Schools can play a vital role in promoting this life-saving message to parents, local drivers and young people."

Road Safety Minister Robert Goodwill said: "The UK has one of the best road safety records in the world and improving this record remains a top priority for the Government. That is why we have increased fines for using a mobile at the wheel, made it easier for the police to tackle bad driving behaviour and we are looking at how we can improve young driver safety. I welcome Brake's Road Safety Week initiative which helps raises awareness of the importance of road safety."

Filming, photo and interview opportunities
Eight launch events will kick off the campaign on 18 November, in universities, colleges and town centres across the UK, including a national launch in London:
AT: 10.00am, Monday 18 November 2013
WHERE: Conisborough College, Conisborough Crescent, Catford, London SE6 2SE

FILMING/PHOTOS: students will be learning about the science behind distractions from expert Dr Nick Reed and about the consequences from Inspector David Osborne. They will be watching a screening of new Transport for London videos on distractions, and showcasing a film they have created themselves. They will be taking part in a distraction demonstration using a driving simulator, also available for media to use. Students will be posing in gadget masks for photos around a campaign banner. Police will be conducting enforcement checks for drivers on mobile phones outside for media to film.

INTERVIEWS: Brake deputy CE Julie Townsend; Dr Nick Reed, Transport Research Laboratory; injured volunteer Imogen Cauthery and bereaved volunteer Nicci Saunders (details below); Inspector David Osborne, Met Police; vox pops with students.

For more information visit www.roadsafetyweek.org.uk

Advert: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/primary-times/id674066003?mt=8