Stay alive. Don’t text and drive.

By guest writer Penelope Torday

Use your mobile phone to text, e-mail or make calls while driving and you might as well dig your own grave. You may also injure or even kill someone else. Bring a lorry into the equation, and the number of fatalities could markedly increase. Lorries have a higher number of blind-spots than others, they need longer to reduce their speed, and they’re less mobile than other vehicles.

Phone use at the wheel is more dangerous than driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, in fact: your reaction time can slow down by 35 per cent, while drink driving reduces it by 12 per cent, and by 21 per cent if you’re on drugs. On the road, phone use is unsafe simply because it fragments focus and impairs reflex activity.

The fatal cost of texting and driving an LGV (Large Goods Vehicle)
According to a US study by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, lorry drivers are seven times likelier to crash if they reach for their phone. Unquestionably, concentrating on the road ahead (without distractions) is critical in accident prevention. Reaching for a phone removes the driver’s gaze by up to six seconds; and it only takes three seconds for an accident to occur. Without a doubt, the dangers posed are far greater than in other vehicles. Collisions involving lorries generally have a higher death toll. We’re talking crashes causing large-scale damage here, not just the odd scrape, scratch or prang. A single lorry in an accident can embroil many vehicles in its wake; and, as aforesaid, even if there’s no fatalities, victims may still incur life-changing injuries.

Legislation for lorry drivers
In the UK, LGV drivers caught texting face suspension from driving and fines of up to £2,500. If that’s not enough to deter you, then this may: The Ministry of Justice plans to implement a custodial life sentence for causing death by careless driving, including for use of a device at the wheel.

Is any text message, e-mail or phone call really worth sacrificing a human life or risking life imprisonment?

Of course it’s not.

How to protect against the risks
Even using a hands-free set poses risks; and if accidents occur, judges will prosecute. Be in no doubt. The powers-that-be are cracking down on all this, and they’re cracking down hard.

Could The Digital Age really also be…  The Age of Distraction? Absolutely. We’re all glued to our phones! Studies suggest that the frequent compulsion with which we check our devices borders on addiction. If the urge to reach for your phone is automatic, then don’t invite the opportunity [when driving]. Switch off your phone before turning the key in your vehicle’s ignition. Make it a habit. And if your employer insists on contact while you drive, schedule phone calls during a service-station stop. If they still insist? Well, perhaps let them know that employers who encourage employees to take calls while driving could also face prosecution. Or perhaps not. You’ll just have to make a judgement call on that one.

The bottom line is this: lorry collisions can have a high human cost. When reaching for your phone, think carefully not compulsively.