Safely Home and Vodacom join forces to highlight dangers of distracted driving

By Donald Grant, Minister of Transport and Public Works and Mr Alberts Breed, Managing Executive, Vodacom Western Cape:

Our on-going efforts, throughSafely Home, to tackle the scourge of unnecessary deaths on our roads, zeroed in on the dangers of distracted driving during the month of May. Distracted driving remains one of the leading causes of crashes that result in serious injury, and too often death on our roads. As the National Safety Council points out, brain activity in the areas that process moving images decreases by over 33% when we are talking on our phone. This means that we effectively become partially blind when we use our cell-phone while driving. This in turn, often leads to the horrific collisions we see on our roads, on a daily basis.

“As part ofSafely Home’s focus on distracted driving for the month of May, we have launched the #ItCanWait multimedia campaign under our twitter handle @WCGovSafelyHome, and with radio advertisements on Goodhope FM, RSG, Umhlobo Wenene, KFM, and Heart FM. The radio advertisements are in English, isiXhosa, and Afrikaans.

“We are delighted that Vodacom, a leading African mobile communications company, has partnered with us to tackle distracted driving head-on and to raise awareness about the serious dangers of using devices while driving. Vodacom has launched their own W8_2send (Wait to send) campaign, urging motorists to commit themselves not to text while driving, as doing so has been shown to be equally if not more dangerous than driving under the influence of alcohol or intoxicating substances,” said Minister Grant.

Vodacom’s campaign includesan online game atwww.w82send.co.za which simulates what could happen when drivers are distracted by their mobile phones. It challenges players to maneuver an animated car by tilting their smartphones or using the arrow keys on their keyboard, while typing the answers to questions.

“All drivers know that texting while driving is unsafe, but they often do not realise just how dangerous it is. Texting can keep your eyes off the road for as much as 5 seconds at a time, so at 120km/h the vehicle would have traveled a distance equivalent to more than one and a half soccer pitches,” said Alberts Breed, Managing Executive Vodacom Western Cape.

“Not surprisingly the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that you are 23 times more likely to crash if texting while driving, while Arrive Alive says studies suggest that texting while driving is even riskier than driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. We want to reduce South Africa’s alarming rate of road accidents, by making people think twice before they tweet, post or text on the road. The lives of your family, your children and your passengers are much more valuable than that SMS,” added Breed.

As part of the campaign, W8_2send thumb bands were distributed at the intersection of Walter Sisulu Drive and Nelson Mandela Drive in Cape Town. The red and white thumb band acts as a physical reminder to not text whilst driving.

“We are grateful for the support we continue to receive from our road safety partners, in our collective goal to reduce the number of lives that are lost so senselessly on our roads. We will continue to be innovative as we tackle this scourge and raise awareness for important road safety issues like distracted driving. I have no doubt that our commitment and collective efforts will continue to save more and more lives,” added Minister Grant.