A driver taking his/her attention off the road for five seconds to type and send a message will travel the length of a football field unaware of what is happening around them.
Since texting slows down break-reaction speed by 18%, realising the need to break will always come too late. “The one moment in time when you are distracted and skip a robot or a child runs out into the road can mean the difference between life and death and no text message is worth jeopardising yourself or someone else’s life,” said IMPERIAL I-Pledge group marketing officer Niki Cronje.
According to a recent study by Market and Opinion Firm Ipsos, polling 14 160 drivers, South Africa was one of the countries with the highest proportion of participants (41%) guilty of texting, emailing or using social media whilst driving. This begs the question: why are the dangers of texting and driving not receiving more attention?
IMPERIAL I-Pledge aims to address this by campaigning to encourage road users to make personal and conscious commitments to break their bad habits and stay within the law. “Road safety starts with each and every one of us – it is a conscious decision to take responsibility for your actions on the road and it is up to us all to stop engaging in activities that put our, as well as other’s, lives at risk while on the road,” said Cronje.
For a start, Cronje advises drivers to disconnect from the digital world when entering their vehicles. “We have become addicted to constant tech-connectivity. To break the cycle, before you get into your vehicle make sure that all relevant people you may need to speak to have been contacted.”
“Politely let people know that you are not accessible while driving and that safety is your foremost concern. To resist the urge to text, lock your mobile phone in your boot. Getting into this habit will not only curb the urge to text, but will reduce your risk of a potential smash and grab or fatal accident.”
“If you can’t bear to be separated from your mobile phone – then turn it onto silent, removing the temptation to respond. If you have a passenger, hand over the device to him or her to respond on your behalf.”
Cronje called on drivers to take the I-Pledge and commit to road safety – to not text or engage in social media whilst driving. “Remember, the other person using the road could be your child, mother, father, sibling,” concluded Cronje.
Visit www.ipledge.co.za and make your commitment to be safer and friendlier on our roads.
– Written by Jade Crocket, intern