Drive smart

CAMDrivesmartputitaway2Driving is the most dangerous thing most of us do regularly: you're operating a potentially lethal machine in an unpredictable public environment, so it requires full concentration at all times. Despite this, many drivers try to multitask – with mobile phones or other distractions such as eating – dramatically increasing their risk of causing a crash. More than two in five crashes are thought to be caused, at least in part, by driver distraction.

If you talk on a phone at the wheel – hands-free or hand-held – your risk of causing an injury or death is four times as high. Use a phone to text, email or browse the internet and the risk is much higher still. In fact, the impact of using a phone on reaction times is on a par with drink driving. Yet a huge proportion of drivers put themselves and others in danger for the sake of a call or message, whether flouting the law by using a hand-held phone, or wrongly believing that hands-free is a safe alternative.

Get the facts on driver distraction due to mobile phones.

What needs to be done?

Drivers can help make our roads safer by putting phones out of sight and reach when driving to avoid temptation, ideally in the boot. On long journeys, you should take regular breaks and use these to check for messages. Phones and driving are a deadly combination, and no call or message is worth a life.

We are calling on government to ban hands-free phones at the wheel, in line with the evidence that they increase crash risk just as much as hand-helds – it's the distraction of the phone conversation itself that causes the danger. The rise of in-built car 'infotainment' systems presents an added source of distratction and the government needs to act to regulate them.
We also need a much higher penalty for phone use at the wheel – from the current £100 to at least £500-1,000 – so drivers take it seriously, combined with stepped-up enforcement by making traffic policing a national policing priority.

What can I do?

Brake supports proposed penalty point increase for risky mobile phone use, 16/07/2014
Brake welcomes increase in fines for motorway speeding and phone use at the wheel, 11/06/2014
Risky hands-free calls at the wheel on the rise, as confusion about dangers persists, 22/04/2014
Drivers urged to take time out to enjoy lunch, as six in ten admit eating at the wheel, 20/02/2014
Campaign appeals to drivers to tune in to road safety and turn off their phones, 18/11/2013
Families and community groups urged to register and start planning for Road Safety Week, 26/06/2013
Educators urged to register and start planning for Road Safety Week 2013, 26/06/2013
Half of drivers risk lives for sake of a call, according to Brake and Direct Line survey, 29/03/2012
Don't text and drive campaign on Flickr, 29/03/2012
Mobile phone offences on the increase, according to police data, 12/11/2011
Mobile phone addiction threatens safety, with three in 10 texting at wheel, 28/09/2011
Brake holds workshop on eliminating driver distractions, 20/04/2011
World Health Organisation speaks out against hand-held phone use when driving, 18/04/2011