Drivers urged to support My Red Thumb Day and help save lives

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Posted on: 11 May 2017

Motorists are being asked to help save lives by lending their support to My Red Thumb Day (Thursday 11 May).

The annual campaign highlights the dangers of driving and riding while using hand-held mobile devices. To coincide with the day, #MyRedThumb has launched a new road safety video which aims to encourage passengers to speak out against drivers using their phones in order to help reduce the risk of a crash.

Since being launched in Devon in 2014, My Red Thumb Day has gone on to become a national event. This year it is hoped that thousands of people will show their support for the campaign by painting their thumb nail red, spreading the message on social media and putting their phone away while driving.

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.

Earlier this year, 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.

#MyRedThumb is a multi-agency road safety initiative organised by Devon County Council’s Road Safety Team, Devon and Somerset Fire & Rescue, Devon and Cornwall Police and South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust.

Nigel Flower, Devon County Council road safety officer, said: “We’re keen for as many people as possible to join in with My Red Thumb Day. The passengers in the new video demonstrate three ways of dealing with a potentially distracted driver and we hope people who see it will feel empowered to tell drivers to put their phone away and help make everyone safer on our roads. Using your mobile while at the wheel is a dangerous distraction which slows your reaction times, and ultimately puts lives at risk.”

Inspector Richard McLellan, Devon and Cornwall Police, said: “My Red Thumb Day is a timely reminder of the tougher penalties which are now in force for anyone using mobile phones, or any mobile device, while driving. Driver distraction is one of the ‘Fatal Five’* driving behaviours. We know it leads to collisions which result in serious injury and fatalities.”

Laura Pratt, Station Manager Community Safety Education & Road Safety from Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service, said: “We are extremely passionate about promoting the My Red Thumb message that it is not safe or acceptable to use your mobile phone whilst driving. In the emergency services we deal with far too many road traffic collisions. We see the terrible aftermath and ripple effect that a single collision causes to families and friends and our colleagues. Being distracted by using your phone whilst driving can result in a serious road traffic collision causing fatalities or life changing injuries.”

Martyn Callow, South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Any reminder of this kind, like My Red Thumb Day, that prevents an accident on our roads is helpful. We totally support it and encourage everyone to put their mobiles away – preferably in the glove compartment of your car, concentrate on driving and drive to arrive.”

The advice to motorists before starting a journey is:

Turn off your phone or put it on silent.
Put your phone out of reach where you will not be tempted to use it.

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.

*The Fatal Five are: Excess speed; drink/drug driving; using a mobile device; not wearing a seatbelt; careless driving.

More information is available here. On Twitter @MyRedThumb or go to Facebook.com/myredthumb

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Posted in: Environment