by Tracy Johnson
In the news this week, the latest fad of recording or streaming video from mobile phones while driving is being discouraged by Neil, a serving police sergeant, in an unofficial social media campaign.
Neil, a prolific Twitter user also known as @SgtTCS (who does not wish his surname to be known), used a driving simulator at the Transport Research Laboratory in Berkshire to demonstrate the effects of streaming and driving and the dangers caused to other road users as a result.
During the driving simulation, Neil recorded a video on a smartphone stuck to the windscreen, looking at the phone and not the motorway, which caused the car to drift dangerously out of lane while travelling at speeds in excess of 70mph. In addition, his reaction times were impaired.
Neil has organised an unofficial online campaign called #dontstreamanddrive to highlight the dangers of streaming and driving.
Racing driver Lewis Hamilton was recently criticised for posting a video-selfie on social app Snapchat showing him riding a motorbike in New Zealand. But there are many non-celebrities doing similarly dangerous things and then sharing the footage on social media, with the numbers of live streaming growing daily.
An increasing number of people are using the Periscope app for live streaming from their mobiles while driving, while others are recording video-selfies (like Hamilton) and posting them on online.
Neil aims to raise awareness of the fact that live streaming whilst driving is unsafe as it means the driver’s attention is not where it should be.
He is also very concerned about the opportunities for interaction provided by some apps, which has led to some drivers being observed performing for the camera and responding to comments.
If drivers are not touching the mobile phone, then a mobile phone offence is arguably not being committed. However, if they are driving dangerously then other offences may apply, such as driving without due care and attention, dangerous driving and potentially even death by dangerous driving if a fatal collision results.
Official figures show that using mobile phones while driving accounted for 21 fatal accidents in 2014. Currently there is a consultation on the introduction of stiffer penalties for people using hand-held mobiles.
Alice Bailey, from the road safety charity Brake, says she would like to see those penalties increase and that she supports #dontstreamanddrive. “You’re actually three times more likely to crash if you do a second complex task while you’re driving,” she argues.
The Department for Transport advice on streaming and driving is this: “The message is clear – keep your eyes on the road, not on your phone, or you could end up being banned from the road.”
Neil’s unofficial campaign has attracted support from police and road safety Twitter accounts across the country, as well as plenty of ordinary drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. He hopes in the end that the reaction on social media may help make streaming and driving socially unacceptable.
If you are being charged with an offence because of streaming and driving, call our team of expert motoring lawyers now on 01623 397200.