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Two powerful new Road Safety adverts tackling driver distraction to air tonight

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Environment Minister Mark H Durkan today announced two powerful new DOE Road Safety adverts addressing driver distraction and inattention.

Driver carelessness/inattention is consistently the main cause of fatalities on our roads. Over the last five years, 116 people have lost their lives due to driver carelessness. This was nearly 40% of the total number of deaths, 298, on our roads from 2010 to 2014.

The first, entitled Friends, is a television advert specifically targeting young drivers carrying young passengers. It uses sports scenes to illustrate how someone can miss a goal or a putt when distracted and then highlights the fatal consequences of a driver being distracted. The second advert, entitled Missing, will go out on social media and highlights what can happen in those two seconds when a driver looks at the incoming text on their mobile phone.

Minister Durkan said: “Distraction is our key focus in these adverts given the high number of people who have lost their lives due to distraction.

“Young passengers and young drivers can be a lethal combination. Young drivers are particularly susceptible to distraction, especially when driving with other young people in the car. What we are clearly saying here is that the car is not a mobile living room.

“Young drivers often don’t have the confidence to challenge horseplay and succumb to group peer pressure so that they don’t spoil the fun. My message to them is: do have the confidence to say wise up. Your car, your rules. Passengers, on the other hand, are often unaware that their behaviour puts their driver, who is their friend, at risk. They seem oblivious to their role and responsibilities as road users, mistakenly shifting all the responsibility onto the driver. My message is clear-don’t distract the driver. Distraction kills.”

Speaking specifically about the advert ‘Missing’ which highlights the distraction from mobile phones, the Minister continued: “There is widespread acceptance that mobile phones are distracting and potentially dangerous while driving. But addiction to mobile phones seems to override this rational understanding. Drivers know that they shouldn’t, yet they continue to do it. My message is simple – don’t lose your whole life for a two second addiction. We need to ask ourselves what we miss when we look down at the phone for a couple of seconds. In fact, glancing at your phone, for just two seconds, doubles your risk of crashing.”

“No phone call, text or social media update is worth someone’s life.”

Minister Durkan introduced the Road Traffic Amendment Bill in January this year which legislates for younger drivers being safer drivers including mandatory logged training before doing the driving test and time related restrictions on passengers that young driver can carry for the first six months after passing their driving test.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd added: “The frightening reality is that the scenes depicted in these DOE advertisements happen with alarming regularity on roads across Northern Ireland.

“Avoidable collisions which have killed and seriously injured people have occurred in part, because a driver has not been paying proper attention to driving, whether that means being distracted by passengers or using a mobile phone.

“We all share the responsibility to prevent deaths and injuries on our roads. Slow down, wear a seatbelt, drive with greater care and attention, turn the mobile phone off and never drive after drinking or taking drugs.”

The new adverts will be live from 11 March – at 9.10PM for ‘Friends’ on UTV during the finale of Mr Selfridge’ and ‘Missing’ will be available on YouTube and other social media, on the same date, using the hashtag #2secondglance.

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