Drivers asked to put their thumbs up and mobiles down in support of My Red Thumb Day

Posted on: 10 May 2018

Motorists are being urged to show their support for My Red Thumb Day today (Thursday 10 May) and help save lives.

The annual My Red Thumb campaign highlights the dangers of being distracted by using hand-held mobile devices while driving, encouraging passengers and drivers alike to raise awareness of the risks.

This year’s campaign will include a new road safety video featuring Emergency Doctor Clare Bosanko, who flies with the Devon Air Ambulance. In the video Clare describes her personal experience of attending a road traffic collision where she witnessed the devastation left from a car crash where a driver was distracted by their mobile phone. We would encourage people to watch and share the video and heed the very clear message – distracted driving destroys lives.

Dr Clare Bosanko

Clare Bosanko, Critical Care Doctor with Devon Air Ambulance, said: “My Red Thumb Day is a campaign which reminds people of the dangers of being distracted by their mobile phones while driving. This year on the 10th May, wouldn’t it be great if there were no accidents as a result of people being distracted by their mobile phones. Please put down your mobile phone, especially on My Red Thumb Day on 10th May, but all the time to keep you and the people around you on the roads safe.”

This year, alongside social media activity, road safety partnership teams will be running local publicity events to raise awareness for MyRedThumb Day. Members from the My Red Thumb team (including, representatives from the emergency services, Highways England, Devon County Council, Somerset County Council and Exeter College) will be promoting the event at M5 motorway services in both Devon and Somerset on Thursday, May 10th. They will be reminding drivers and passengers about the dangers of distracted driving by painting their thumb nails red, or by wearing a free my Red Thumb nail sticker or thumb ring. Please see below for further details of these events.

Since being launched in Devon in 2014, My Red Thumb Day has gone on to become a national event run primarily on social media.

#MyRedThumb is a multi-agency road safety initiative with support from Devon and Somerset Fire & Rescue, Highways England, Devon and Cornwall Police, Avon and Somerset Police, Devon Air Ambulance, South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, Devon County Council and Somerset Road Safety Teams.

Last year the day trended on Twitter and received national and international support. The public and emergency services are again being asked to send in photos and videos on social media of themselves showing their support for the campaign.

SGT Harry Tangye, of the Devon and Cornwall Police Armed Response Vehicle team, said: “Drivers are injuring and killing other road users by ignoring the law and using hand held devices while driving. My Red Thumb day is a call to action for everyone to paint their thumbs red to remind themselves to put their mobiles down when driving. We are also asking passengers, friends and family members to raise awareness for this life saving message and speak up when they witness a driver using their phone. Asking someone to stop could save a life.”

Laura Pratt, Station Manager Community Safety Education and Road Safety from Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service, said: “For the 5th year of My Red Thumb we are trying to get as many people as possible to spread the message about the dangers of using a mobile phone whilst driving. Come and talk to us on May 10th at the either of the two Services, have your nail painted red or get a free My Red Thumb ring to promote the message and act as a visual reminder of not to use a mobile phone whilst driving and to challenge other drivers who do.”

Cllr Stuart Hughes

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “The My Red Thumb Day campaign has attracted huge support in the five years it’s been running. Everyone recognises this is an important issue and we need to keep reminding people to put their mobile phones away while driving. Using your mobile phone while at the wheel of a vehicle puts your life and the lives of others at risk.”

It is illegal to ride a motorcycle or drive using hand-held phones or similar devices, and the rules are the same if you’re stopped at traffic lights or when queuing in traffic. In 2017, penalties doubled for using a mobile phone behind the wheel, and anyone caught doing so now faces a £200 fine and six penalty points on their licence – and new drivers who gained their licence within the last two years risk losing their licence.

According to research by RoSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) drivers using a phone at the wheel are four times more likely to crash, injuring or killing themselves and/or other people as they are less aware of what is around them and are slower to react.

The advice to motorists before starting a journey is:

Turn off your phone, put it on silent or switch on the driving notification.
Put your phone out of reach where you will not be tempted to use it- for example in the glove box or in the boot.

And when making a journey:
If your phone rings, ignore it or ask a passenger to take the call for you.
If you need to make a call, first find a sensible place to stop and turn off your engine.

For more information visit www.myredthumb.com
Contact us on Twitter @MyRedThumb or go to Facebook.com/myredthumb

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