By now you may be aware that the penalty for using your hand held mobile phone has gone up to 6 points and a £200 fine.
However, how much difference will this actually make to the number of drivers using their hand held mobile phone?
I recently watched Sky News which was covering the changes on 1st March 2017. Both of the guest presenters were against the use of hand held mobile phones. One of them mentioning that around 20 deaths a year were directly caused by drivers using their phone whilst driving.
What was really interesting to listen to was the remarks made by one of the guests who mentioned her son had just passed his driving test and had recently asked her why she had been driving along one particular road at 90 mph. The answer she gave was because she had lived in the area for over 20 something years and had never seen a police car on the road they had been using.
Now driving at 90 mph is an issue I am not going to comment upon. However, the example evidences why an increase in the penalty for using hand held phones will not work:
· Drivers will drive how they want to drive if there is little or no risk of being caught
The problem is that we are human! We may talk the talk about not using hand held phones but, if we are so disposed to use them, we will. Other examples include speeding, risk taking and aggression as we revert to our personality type.
We may recognise the risks of using a phone when we are driving but our human nature transfers this risk onto other drivers. For example, we may think that other drivers will get caught. Accidents happen to other people. Or, I am an experienced driver who is able to multi task.
Society may claim to frown upon breaking the rules. However, the cultural reality is that where there are rules they will be broken by some of us unless there is a very real risk of being caught.
The reality of being caught by a police officer using your phone whilst driving is low. So if you use your phone everyday whilst driving and nothing ever happens why would you stop? If others can do it, why can't you?
Even when the risks are high, whether of getting caught or of causing injury, some people will still take the risk.
We learn what is right and wrong from others as we watch and copy what they do. We make choices to follow, or not, the examples we are given. If mum and dad speed or use a mobile phone then we should not be surprised when our 17 year old does the same after they pass their driving test. Unless there are other, stronger and competing role models to persuade us otherwise.
What example do you set? What safety culture do you encourage within your organisation?