It seems many of us are so addicted to our phones we can’t even sit at a red light without giving in to the temptation. Have you spotted people on their phones while they should be driving?
The last few months I’ve noticed this dangerous phenomenon more and more – the number of people I’ve seen on their phones while at the wheel has been worrying.
The other day I was sitting behind a car at a red light. The lights changed to green, but the car didn’t move. “They’re probably on their phone” said my brother. I glanced ahead and there they were – looking down, transfixed.
“I’m seeing this every day” he continued, “not just in traffic jams or red lights either – people are at it while they’re going along as well”.
An accident waiting to happen
This doesn’t seem to be limited to drivers either – the other day I saw a cyclist in full flight on the road with one hand on the handlebar, the other on his phone, not checking what was ahead of him on a busy street full of traffic and parked cars.
So what’s behind this apparent surge in phone use at the wheel? I think the majority of us are accustomed to using hands-free kits and well aware of what would happen if we’re seen with our phones to our ear while driving, so why do people seemingly think that looking down at a smartphone is any different?
If you’re caught holding your phone while at the wheel, you’re likely to be prosecuted – it carries a penalty of £200 and six penalty points.
We’ve become acclimatised to going on our phones during ‘dead time’ ; TV advert breaks, public transport – I’ve even found myself scrolling Twitter while in a lift or on an escalator.
So, when there’s a break in normality, such as waiting at a red light where you feel you have absolutely nothing to do, the compulsion kicks in. I won’t lie, I’ve felt it, too. It’s become like a reflex reaction to when you have nothing essential to concentrate on.
But when you’re engaged in an activity as dangerous as driving a vehicle, you absolutely must resist. Your own life, and the lives of others could depend on it. Nothing on Facebook or in your WhatsApp messages could possibly be more important.
This raises questions about the long-term effects of smartphone use. They’ve changed our social behaviour in a very short space of time – where might we be in, say, 20 years from now?
Have you spotted people on their phones while they should be driving? Do you use yours to fill ‘dead time’? What do you think the solution is? Let me know if you share my concerns.