In many cases, those distractions are caused by drivers’ inability to resist the lure of their mobile phone. A quick glance at the display while motoring along means taking your eyes off the road, and in those brief moments anything can happen. Indeed, using the phone behind the wheel is now the third most common cause of fatal accidents on American roads after alcohol and speed.
So how can the authorities persuade drivers that it’s really not worth risking your life to check your messages or social media feeds at any speed, whether 15 mph or 85?
The latest road safety campaign by South Africa’s Western Cape government is hoping its new hard-hitting ad will help to change the habits of drivers who still think it’s OK to use their phone behind the wheel.
The 40-second ad (above) cleverly pulls you in with an amusing sequence of clips showing people texting and walking before coming a cropper as a result of their careless actions. It’s funny, with the added sound effects and slapstick music creating a comedy routine Benny Hill would’ve been proud of.
But then the ad takes a sudden and unexpected turn that’s certain to give any driver pause for thought.
The ad’s shock factor is likely to hit home with at least some people who are still using their phones while driving, but what of those for whom common sense remains an alien concept?
Well, companies big and small are starting to take the matter more seriously. Apple, for example, is adding a “Do not disturb while driving” mode to iOS 11, launching in the fall, that could help to reduce instances of distracted driving among iPhone users, while a number of startups are also launching crowdfunding campaigns to fund their own bits of kit aimed at making our roads safer, including this one that makes it pretty much impossible for car owners to text and drive.