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Think! switch off before you drive off

1 February 2008

A new THINK! campaign to highlight the dangers of using a mobile phone when driving was launched today  it runs until late February.

The £1.5m campaign, featuring a new radio advert as well as the hard-hitting television advert launched last year, will remind drivers to switch off before getting behind the wheel. It is timed to coincide with the first anniversary of the introduction of tougher penalties for using a mobile phone when driving.

Recent research showed a 40% reduction in the number of car drivers seen using hand-held mobiles at the wheel between September 2006 and August 2007. Just 1% of car drivers were observed using a hand-held mobile while driving, compared with 1.7% in 2006.

Using a hand-held mobile phone while driving was made illegal in December 2003. Section 26 of the Road Safety Act 2006 increased the fixed penalty for drivers using a hand held phone or similar device from 27 February 2007. The penalty rose from £30 to £60 and three penalty points. The same changes were made to the penalties for not having proper control of a vehicle - a measure which can be used where a driver has been distracted by using a hands-free mobile phones. If the police or the driver chooses to take a case to court rather than use a fixed penalty notice, the penalty is 3 points, discretionary disqualification and a maximum fine of £1,000 (£2,500 for drivers of vans, lorries, buses and coaches).

Research on the likelihood of a crash is 'Redelmeir D A and Tibshirani, R J (1997). Association between cellular-telephone calls and motor vehicle collisions. J Med, 336, 453.'

The Mobile Phone Use By Drivers 2005-2007 research was carried out by TRL on behalf of DfT. It is available on the TRL website. The survey showed that between September 2006 and August 2007 observed numbers of:
* Car drivers using hand-held mobiles dropped from 1.7% to 1%
* Car drivers using hands-free mobiles dropped from 0.9% to 0.4%
* Other drivers using hand-held mobiles dropped from 2.9% to 2.4%
* Other drivers using hands-free mobiles halved, from 1.2% to 0.6%.

Full details here.