HC Deb 08 March 2004 vol 418 c1240W
Mr. Jim Cunningham

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the progress of the Government's message of safer driving with particular reference to using mobile telephones while driving. [156865]

Mr. Jamieson

Good progress is being made on the government's message of safer driving, which is taken forward under the THINK! road safety publicity campaign. THINK! uses a range of media channels—TV, radio, press, posters etc.—to provide a national platform to complement regional police and local authority activities. In addition it encourages broader support from private sector partners and works to generate media interest in road safety issues. Current awareness of THINK! stands at 71 per cent. among all drivers and 89 per cent. among male drivers under 35-years-old.

The THINK! campaign covers various themes throughout the year. The dangers of driver distraction caused by use of mobiles phones while driving was a key safety message in spring last year. More recently, we ran promotional activity to publicise the new regulations regarding hand held mobile phones introduced in December 2003.

Activity included national radio advertising, national press advertising, e-mail information to the top 1,000 UK companies/central and local government departments, a national press release, plus use of Variable Message Signs on motorways. We also produced new guidance, including leaflets, posters and information on the THINK! and DfT websites, for road safety officers in Local Authorities and others.

Research carried out for the Department by TNS in February 2004 showed that 96 per cent. of drivers were aware of the new mobile phones law. The research also showed that, there was an increase in the number of drivers claiming to keep their mobile phones switched off while driving, from 17 per cent. in November 2003 to 23 per cent. in February 2004.

The Department will continue to re-iterate the dangers of driver distraction surrounding the use of mobile phones, focussing on the simple message "Switch off before you drive off". Radio advertising ran in January 2004 and advertising in cinemas runs from 5 March 2004 for three weeks.

Forward to