According to the results of a survey conducted in 2019, as many as 68% of drivers had used their mobile phones while driving in the previous 12 months. A further 23% had found themselves in dangerous situations as passengers due to the mobile phone use of the driver.
According to Hannes Kullamäe, the director of the Traffic Supervision Centre, multitasking while driving – in particular making phone calls and browsing social media – is unfortunately very common. “Last year the police caught nearly 10,000 drivers distracted at the wheel,” he said. “That’s a large and worrying number, as it shows how many drivers are neglectful of their own safety and the safety of other road-users.”
The European traffic police force network ROADPOL is focusing on distracted driving during the week of 14-20 September. During the week, traffic police will be drawing attention to the fact that using a phone, eating, applying make-up and other activities should be avoided while driving.
Police are dedicating more and more time to ensuring traffic safety, but that alone is not enough. “People have to recognise the dangers of distracted driving,” said Gerli Grünberg, an expert with the Prevention Department of the Estonian Road Administration. “Nothing catastrophic will happen if you can’t reply to a text or answer a call straight away. But if your attention wanders while you’re at the wheel because of such distractions and it leads to a tragic accident, it will have a lasting impact on many people’s lives.”
The Road Administration and Police and Border Guard Board have organised a traffic safety campaign entitled “If you’re driving, then drive!” that will take place from 14 September to 4 October. The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving.
To avoid multitasking while driving:
• plan your route before hitting the road;
• install an app that blocks you from using your phone while driving;
• when travelling with children, factor in extra time so you can take breaks if you need to;
• if you need to use your phone, stop the car in a safe place or ask a passenger for help;
• ask your passengers not to distract you while you are driving.