VIDEO: Driven to distraction: 35% hike in deaths on built-up roads

More than two million car passengers would do nothing if their driver used a hand-held phone whilst driving, according to new research for the AA Charitable Trust.

A scene from Cadence
A scene from Cadence

The AA Trust today launches a hard-hitting campaign to try to change attitudes and behaviours around driver distraction.

The Government intends to increase the penalties for using a mobile at the wheel to six penalty points and a £200 fine but the AA Trust believes changing behaviour is just as important.

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A mother and three children were killed in a crash caused by a lorry driver using a mobile phone in August and yet a substantial number of passengers would still ignore their driver using a phone.

The driver was sentenced to ten years in jail after driving for almost one kilometre changing music on his phone without looking at the road.

Latest Government figures show a 35% increase in fatalities on built-up roads. The report said that there had been 200 fatalities on roads with a maximum of 40 mph between April and June 2016, compared to 148 deaths for the same period in 2015.

A total of 24,620 people were killed or seriously injured in the year ending June 2016, up 3% compared to the previous year. For the same period, deaths of car occupants rose by 9% and pedestrians by 3%.

The AA Populus poll of 23,141 drivers asked: Which of the following would you do if you were a passenger and your driver used their hand-held mobile when driving?

Ask them to stop using phone - 59%

Offer to take the call - 50%

Take the phone away - 12%

Refuse to get in car with them again - 8%

Report them to police - 1% (203 people)

Nothing, but would be annoyed - 5% (1096 people)

Nothing, won’t bother me - 1% (288 people)

More than one in ten (13%) young drivers (18-24 yrs) find it difficult to ignore a message or email alert on their phones whilst driving. Overall 6% of drivers find this difficult.

Drivers using hand-held mobiles

— An overwhelming 98% of panel members said they had ever seen other drivers using hand-held mobile phones when driving. This figure remains roughly the same as when this question was previously asked in August 2012 (99%).

— One fifth (20%) claim to see other drivers on hand-held mobiles on every journey they make, with a further fifth (22%) claiming they see this on most journeys and 56% on some journeys.

— More men than women claim to see this on every journey (23% vs 13%)

— Respondents in London seem to see usage of hand-held mobiles more frequently, with a quarter (25%) claiming they see this on every journey — Just over half (56%) claim to see other drivers using hand held mobiles on some journeys. Deaths

Statistics for deaths and injuries caused by distracted drivers are probably underestimated as sometimes it is difficult to pinpoint the specific cause. However, using phones at the wheel last year is attributed to 22 deaths and 440 crashes. Other distractions in the vehicle accounted for 61 deaths and 2,920 crashes. Driver distraction was probably a cause in some of the 400 deaths attributed to ‘driver/rider failed to look properly.


In order to stop these avoidable deaths, the AA Trust is embarking on a yearlong campaign to change behaviour. The campaign kicks off with the launch of a new film, “Cadence”.

A young film-maker became so uncomfortable by her peers’ driving and use of mobiles at the wheel that she has produced a film with a safety twist, thanks to funding from the AA Charitable Trust.

Emmeline Kellie, who wrote, starred in and produced the film was compelled to do so after becoming such a nervous car passenger with many of her friends because they were always using their mobile phones behind the wheel.

Emmeline, who graduated from the University of Derby in Media Production, saw a road safety presentation when she was at school and it really struck a chord with me.

The film also features young London based musician Luke Pickett.

Luke also stars in ‘Cadence’ which features two of his songs, one of which should be released as a single and he also wrote the score for the film.

The film premieres at the Derby Quad cinema. It will be targeted at social media users, schools, colleges and talks have begun with the Department for Transport Think! campaign and the police for use on educational courses. The University of Derby and Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service also helped the AA Charitable Trust in the production of the film.