We Need To Talk About Handsfree: How do officers police mobile phone use by drivers?

This presentation reports on the findings of a Road Safety Trust-funded project exploring the ways in which police officers understand, communicate and take action against drivers who are distracted by their mobile phones.

Phone-use is a significant cause of driver distraction, with increasing numbers admitting to the behaviour. While handheld phone-use is illegal, handsfree phone-use is not, despite a wealth of research evidence demonstrating that it is equally distracting.

Police officers are at the frontline of enforcing mobile phone law but also have a crucial role in communicating broader messages about distraction (legal and otherwise). Roadside interactions are an important opportunity for officers to promote safety over legality and avoid drivers moving to a legal yet equally distracting form of phone-use, handsfree.

The presenters will discuss what they have learned about officer attitudes to, and awareness of, the dangers of handsfree phone-use, as well as how a particular interactive educational intervention might meaningfully inform their interactions with distracted drivers.

Helen Wells, Senior Lecturer in Criminology, Keele University

Helen Wells is a senior lecturer in criminology at Keele University. She has over 20 years experience of researching roads policing issues, including speeding, uninsured driving, drink and drug driving and mobile phone distraction.

She is the Director of the Roads Policing Academic Network (RPAN).

Gemma Briggs, Professor of Applied Cognitive Psychology, Open University

Gemma Briggs is a professor of applied cognitive psychology at the Open University, who has been researching driver inattention for over 15 years.

Gemma has worked closely with leading organisations to promote evidence-based practice, via innovative approaches to education, to discourage phone use by drivers.

Dr Leanne Savigar-Shaw, Senior Lecturer in Policing, Staffordshire University

Dr Leanne Savigar-Shaw is a senior lecturer in Policing at Staffordshire University.

She has been involved in many research projects exploring road safety, driver behaviour and roads policing, several with a specific focus on mobile phone use by drivers.