New campaign hopes to focus on stupidity of texting while driving

DESPITE LEGISLATION TO curb the number of people who insist on using their mobile phones when driving the need for a new campaign to highlight the issue has been recognised.

Region Labour MSP David Stewart has been a prominent road safety campaigner and formed the group NOSDAT – North of Scotland Driver Awareness Team – seven years ago.

Now the MSP, whose ‘beat’ includes Moray, has again teamed up with the Park’s Motor Group to launch a new campaign highlighting the dangers of mobile phone use while driving.

The SMART campaign (Silent Mobiles Avoid Risk and Temptation) is designed to raise awareness of the dangers of driving whilst using a mobile device and comprises an educational element delivered through leaflets and radio advertising on local radio, MFR.

David Stewart, speaking on behalf of NOSDAT said: “I remember a driver in England received a six year jail term after he collided with another driver, killing her. The cause of this tragic collision was found to be driver distraction – he was distracted by his mobile and was answering a text.

“I want on behalf of my team at NOSDAT to remind all drivers to be very aware of the consequences of their actions whilst driving.

“We are looking at all the issues that cause or contribute to road collisions. Over the past seven years, I have launched many road safety campaigns with my partners.

“The main issue I have being trying to promote is the introduction of a form of graduated licence scheme. As part of this work I met with many organisations, businesses and Transport Ministers in Westminster, to push for this scheme.

“As a result of part of our work, the UK Government launched a £2million review of driver training and is now implementing changes as a result. At the same time however, I feel passionately that we need to deal with driver behaviour in all its forms. This includes driver distraction.

“Driving and texting or looking at your mobile both require a great deal of thought and cause distraction as well as also being illegal.

“Whilst driving, concentrating on more than one thing often results in collisions due to delayed braking times and not seeing traffic signals. This is why it is best to put your mobile device on silent whilst you are driving,but if it is essential that it is turned on then it should only be done so when you can utilise Bluetooth or hands-free.”

Mr Stewart pointed to researchers who had discovered that vision is the most important sense for safe motoring – yet drivers still have the tendency to ‘look at’ but not ‘see’ object.s

The MSP said: “Distracted drivers experience what researchers call inattention blindness, similar to that of tunnel vision. Drivers are looking out the windscreen and at their device, but they do not process everything in the roadway environment that they must know to effectively monitor their surroundings, seek and identify potential hazards, and respond to unexpected situations.”

A spokesman for Park’s Motor Group said: “We are delighted to join up with NOSDAT which was set up by David Stewart, to again highlight a road safety issue. Road safety is key in reducing road collisions, fatalities and serious injuries as a result.

“As a major vehicle dealer in the North and across Scotland, Park’s Motor Group have been and continue to be, at the forefront of road safety across the Highlands & Islands and beyond.”

The campaign will run from June 19 for five days.