Behind the scenes on ‘kill the conversation’
STAND ON any busy street corner for more than a few minutes, and you’ll probably manage to count up a fair few drivers using hand-held phones on their journeys. They may be talking or texting – or using some other mobile functionality. Whatever they’re doing, you can be sure they’re taking a big risk.
But do they do it because they’re not aware of the risk or the illegality? Or are they aware, yet they choose to take the risk anyway? Do they do it simply because they have no fear of being caught? Or can they not manage life without constant contact?
Those were the questions we asked ourselves as we sat around the planning desk. We had been encouraged by trustees of GEM Motoring Assist’s Road Safety Charity to come up with something that would represent an initiative focusing on mobile phones, with a special emphasis on the new generation of smartphones (never mind one hand to hold it, you need the other hand to operate it… a tricky balance on a busy road, we think).
We considered ‘shock tactics’ but quickly dismissed them. We also took pains to ensure we didn’t end up preaching. Experience shows that few drivers respond well to this sort of approach. What we decided was to show the real thoughts and words of real drivers – people who might know something about the risks of using a mobile while driving, but who perhaps didn’t appreciate the extent of the risks.
Finding the drivers was not difficult, and we assembled them at a disused airfield, where PC Phil Badman from Sussex Police assembled a series of exercises designed to demonstrate how much control, anticipation and concentration is lost when you are forced to (or you choose to) combine driving with using a mobile phone.
Most important for us was to provide some straightforward take-away points. ‘Don’t use your phone while driving’ was simply not enough. So we added a selection of good reasons for not doing so (journey planning, for example, can give you ample opportunity to check for messages when you stop), as well as some tips that can really help raise the standards of anyone’s driving.
The finished product, we hope, is entertaining and informative – and its positive messages may hopefully inspire people who watch it not only to avoid using the phone while driving, but also to implement somesimple tactics to stay safe at the wheel.