Last week, Mo Salah was allegedly caught texting and driving by fans when leaving Anfield following their opening season match. The footballer can be seen behind the wheel of his vehicle with his mobile phone in hand and then can be seen pulling away from a crowd of fans. This is the latest example of celebrities flouting the law when it comes to driving offences. A few weeks ago, Katie Price reported herself to the police after driving while banned. She was banned from driving in February 2018 as a result of speeding.
By failing to follow laws while on the roads, this can create dangerous road conditions for other road users and result in potentially fatal injuries. Since March 2017, the penalty for using a mobile phone can be six points on your licence and £200 fine. Those who have been driving for less than two years can lose their licence. In a bid to crack down on phone usage while behind the wheel, in the four weeks following the new penalties being brought into force, Police forces across Britain penalised almost 6,000 drivers – this is equivalent to one driver every seven minutes(!) – for using their phones while driving. Police say they want to make using a mobile while driving as “socially unacceptable” as drink-driving.
Road safety charity, Brake, previously published research regarding the use of mobile phones while driving which found that the distraction caused can result in slower reaction times and increased risk of being involved in an accident. For example, drivers using their mobile phone are four times more likely to be involved in a crash which causes an injury compared to those not using their mobile phones.
In relation to sending messages, using apps or social media while behind the wheel of a vehicle, a study has found that these drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved an accident than those who avoid using their phones.
Most concerning is the volume of drivers using their mobiles phones while behind the wheel. A study conducted in 2016 found that around half of drivers between the ages of 25 to 34 admitted to messaging, using apps and browsing while at the wheel. This is very concerning given the proven link between mobile phone use and distraction while driving.
Unfortunately, the injuries sustained following a serious road traffic accident can be life changing or even fatal. In 2016, there were 1445 fatal crashes on roads in Britain. From this, a high percentage were caused as a result of in-vehicle distractions, such as phone use. When the media are reporting stories of celebrities who appear to be above the law when it comes to driving offences, this normalises the behaviour and gives the appearance that this is acceptable, which it is not. Drivers need to be aware of the consequence to themselves, and other road users, as a result of a failure to follow the law.
Blog by Eilish Lindsay, Dundee Solicitor