Image: Deaths whilst texting are on the increase

In this modern connected world, it is harder than ever to avoid the distraction of the phone screen. Texting and phone use whilst driving is on the increase and leading to more and more deaths on the road. How can this be stopped?

Statistics from Think!, the UK road safety campaigner, show that you are four times more likely to have an accident whilst using the phone. Reaction time is severely affected, 50% slower than normal. Figures released in 2010 show that 20% of deaths on the road were as a result of careless driving, with texting and driving making up a large number of that percentage.

It’s not just the UK that has seen a sharp increase. In the US, over one and a half million accidents are caused by texting and driving every year, with eleven teen deaths happening each day. Worryingly, it is believed that 800,000 drivers at any given time are texting whilst driving. In both the USA and UK, texting whilst driving is the number one distraction reported by drivers.


Image: Infographic shows just some of the dangers

There’s an app for that

To try and counter this worrying trend, government agencies in the UK and the US have stepped up shock advertising and school programs, to try and raise awareness of the dangers involved. But the solution may be far simpler, with several apps now on the market to try and stop the distraction.

One such app is, a free app that works by reading out texts and emails so you don’t have to touch the phone. It can also automatically send a reply to those messaging you, allowing you to send a notice that you are driving and unable to use your phone. The app appears to be a big success, with the website proudly announcing that it has prevented 1,743,281,749 potential texting while driving incidents.

Another app on the market is called OneProtect. This app works by locking your phone when it detects the car is in motion. Once the phone is locked, it requires a detailed unlocking process to ensure that you do not cheat and use the phone whilst driving. The “Attention Verification Test” allows the app to differentiate between drivers and passengers.

Suicidal Selfies

Whilst more apps are being launched to prevent texting and driving, more worrying mobile related trends are surfacing. A recent study by Ford asked British drivers if they would photograph themselves whilst driving. 33% said they would take a driving selfie, the highest percentage in Europe. The survey questioned 7,000 smartphone users between 18-24 across Europe and asked them a number of driving related questions. One in four said that they have posted a social media update whilst driving, with male drivers more likely to ignore the risks of using the phone while driving.

Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said: “Ford’s survey is very disturbing and is another example of how using new technology, such as smartphones, inappropriately can create serious risks to people’s lives. Taking a selfie while driving will significantly distract the driver, reducing their awareness of what is happening on the road around them and slowing their reactions. In 2012, 71 people were killed and almost 500 seriously injured in crashes involving in-vehicle distractions.”

With car accidents the leading cause of death amongst young drivers, new anti driving distraction apps cannot come quick enough.

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The psychology of driving: Sex and speed.