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If you are driving do not use a mobile phone or pager, send or read a text message, or use a hands-free mobile phone device.  Stay at or below the maximum allowable speed and adjust your speed to take into account road and weather conditions.  Finally always wear a seat belt and you will greatly increase your chances of arriving alive.

Top Three Tips

  1. Do not use your mobile device
  2. Watch your speed
  3. Wear your seat belt

1. Mobile devices

As the number of mobile users continues to rise, the World Health Organization now considers driving while using a mobile device to be a serious and growing threat to road safety.  Drivers using a mobile phone are four times more likely to crash. [1]

It is one of the biggest distractions to drivers because it demands full attention: visual, manual, and cognitive, causing you to take your eyes off the road, your hands off the steering wheel, and your mind off the road. For every six seconds of drive time, a driver sending or receiving a text message spends 4.6 of those seconds with their eyes off the road.

While driving and using mobile phones, you are more likely to:

  • Fail to detect hazards;
  • Respond to hazards more slowly;
  • Be exposed to risk for longer periods;
  • Have dangerously slow reaction times.

Most countries legislate against the use of mobile devices whilst driving. Regardless of what the law says in your country, you should follow the below rules :

  • Not make a call or answer a mobile phone or pager, send or read a text message, or use a hands-free mobile phone device while driving a vehicle. Even speaking on hands-free devices can cause cognitive distraction and “attention switching” which can slow down driver reaction times.[2]
  • Pull over somewhere safe to use your device, if you have urgent business or an emergency.

If you are a passenger you should intervene if a driver is using a phone in a moving vehicle. They are putting your life at risk.

GPS devices are beneficial in assisting many driver’s with route management, when used correctly. Shell is aware of the inherent dangers of drivers being distracted whilst driving and have created some guidance to reduce GPS devices becoming a distraction .

[1] Distraction.Gov – Official US Government Website for Distracted Driving

www.distraction.gov/content/get-the-facts/facts-and-statistics.html 

www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811517.pdf 

www.edgarsnyder.com/car-accident/cell-phone/cell-phone-statistics.html 

[2] National Safety Council, “Understanding the Distracted Brain: Why Driving While Using Hands-Free Cell Phones is Risky Behavior.” April 2012. Appendix A, Studies Comparing Hands-Free and Handheld Cell Phones. http://www.nsc.org/safety_road/Distracted_Driving/Documents/Cognitive%20Distraction%20White%20Paper.pdf 

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/even-hands-free-texting-while-driving-is-dangerous-study-finds/ 

2. Watch your speed

Speed limits are there for a good reason – to protect you and other road users.  Highways agencies invest millions in planning and assigning speed limits to roads, taking into account the location, nature of the road and how the road will be used.

Keep to the speed limits to keep safe

  • Remember the speed limit is the MAXIMUM recommended speed, if road or weather conditions are poor, reduce  your speed further;
  • Keeping your distance and speed means that hazards are more likely to resolve safely   ahead of you, avoiding the need for harsh acceleration and braking. Remember this will also save fuel; and
  • Plan your journey to allow for unexpected congestion and breaks; this will reduce your need to speed.

3. Wear your seat belt

Lady putting on a child's seatbelt

A seat belt protects you and your fellow passengers from injury in the event of an incident. Three-point seat belts reduce the risk of motor vehicle-related death or serious injury by 45% to 60%.  

Wear a seat belt whenever it is available, in any type of vehicle, your own private car, a rented vehicle, taxis, buses, trucks, cranes, or forklift trucks.

You and your passengers should:

  • Always use a three-point seat belt*;
  • Check that your seat belt works properly;
  • Keep your seat belt properly fastened at all times while in a moving vehicle;
  • Check that everyone in the vehicle is wearing a seat belt properly before starting to drive;
  • Intervene when your fellow passengers are not wearing seat belts properly.

* Exceptions include vehicles where only lap seat belts are available or in public transport where seat belts are not available.

How do seat belts protect you?

  • Helps to decelerate the body at the same speed as the vehicle;
  • Prevents the body being ejected from the vehicle;
  • Helps to minimise contact with the interior of the vehicle and other occupants;
  • Helps to spread the force of the collision over a greater area of the body.

Protection from ejection

The American College of Emergency Physicians calculates that 75% of all vehicle occupants ejected from a vehicle in an accident die as a result.  Seat belts provide the greatest protection against ejection in a crash.

Remember there are three impacted areas in a motor vehicle accident:

  • The vehicle
  • The body
  • The internal organs

The forces generated in a 50km/h accident can increase a vehicle occupant’s body weight to that of an elephant! This can be fatal for those who choose not to wear a seat belt.  It can also prove fatal for those front seat occupants who have passengers directly behind them that are not wearing their seat belts.

Make these three easy steps a part of your daily driving routine to keep yourself, your passengers and other road users safe.

Seat belt Myths

Myth 1: Travelling in the rear is safer than the front:  I don’t need a seat belt.

Research clearly shows that passengers who don’t wear a seat belt when travelling in the back seat can be injured or killed.

Myth 2: It’s not my concern if my passengers aren’t wearing their seat belts.

This is not true.  In reality, unrestrained passengers can become projectile objects and cause injury to you.

Myth 3: It’s only a short trip: I don’t need to wear my seat belt.

A significant number of road crashes occur within 10km of home. You cannot control the actions of other drivers. Motor vehicle incidents can happen anywhere. You drive more frequently close to your home and these are usually short trips. As you are very familiar with the area near your home, this can lead to a lack of focus.

Myth 4: I don’t need to wear my seat belt, because I have an airbag.

Airbags are not substitutes for seat belts – they are designed to work together with them. The purpose of the seat belt is to slow down the occupant and hold her/him in the seat. The purpose of the airbag is to prevent movement of driver’s and passenger’s head, which is not restrained by the seat belt.

Airbags can cause serious trauma to unrestrained drivers and passengers – an airbag inflates at a speed of 200-300 km/h.  In some vehicles, the airbag will not inflate unless the seat belt is worn.

Myth 5 : A seat belt will trap me in the car and I could die in a fire or drown after a crash

Seat belts are designed to release even when loaded. The clasp on seat belts is designed to function even when a person is hanging upside down in it, with all their weight on it.

  • Being exposed to a fire or drowning after a crash occurs in less than 1 in 200 incidents.
  • Wearing a seat belt reduces trauma.
  • It also increases your chances of staying conscious.