DRIVING WHILE DISTRACTED – in particular while using a cellphone – was touted as a major challenge to road survival and on a level with driving while inebriated.
Now experts, as we resume normal lives, say the extra time in which most people indulged during”lockdowns” has translated into more cellphone use while driving.
The MD of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, believes this tendency will affect driving because many people have become accustomed to having the freedom to make cellphone calls all day.
”Whether you worked remotely or just waited out lockdowns at home, most people will admit their cellphone use increased,” he said. “International research by GEM Motoring Assist and Westcotec says greater reliance on digital devices could have made the temptation to use something digital more difficult to resist.
“Using your phone to communicate is replacing face-to-face conversations as the new normal. Consequently, more drivers are likely to ignore the danger of distracted driving and continue using their device while at the wheel.”
The question is: ”Where to from here?”
Herbert added: “There was a huge reduction in road collisions during lockdown which meant less strain on GDP and the health-care system. There have been fewer road deaths so far in 2020 so it would be a tragedy for fatalities to soar because the addiction to tech has transferred to the car.
“Awareness must be brought into play along with emphasis on the importance of NOT using a cellphone while driving. Policing will play an important role but real change can only come if drivers acknowledge the danger and commit to not using a phone while driving.”
As we begin to enjoy the greater freedoms of Level 1, Herber asks, ”let’s make a concerted effort to ensure all remain safe on the roads”.
“Give road safety the same level of importance as you did before the pandemic,” Herbert asks. ”Ideally, avoid using your phone at all – especially on a short trip.
“If it’s unavoidable use only Bluetooth. If your call can wait until you reach at your destination, wait. Under no circumstances start excavating social media – you could instead be digging your grave.
”Even glancing at a notification removes your attention from the road for at least 13 seconds by which time you could be dead.
”That alone should be enough reason to ignore the call.”