Paul Newman's story and the background to the Handsoff campaign

On the 5th of January 2005 I received a phone call from my younger sister that changed my life forever.

It was unusual for my sister to call me at work so I was surprised when I heard her voice. I said hello to her and she burst out crying, my heart started pounding, I didn't know what to expect and in those few seconds my mind was thinking all sorts. I have gone over that moment again and again and it still has the same effect on me, it's not easy to write this down even after the few years that have passed, but what happened that day changed everything.

I would like you if you could to think about the one person in your life who is closest to you, the one you hug the most, the one you kiss goodnight, the one you toy fight with. It might be your husband or wife and the one you hope to spend the rest of your days with. It could be your little girl who you have just tucked up in bed or maybe its your big brother who would do anything for you (underneath he's a big softy). Maybe it's your mum, who has had a hard life but has always been there for you. It could also be your granddad who always brings you sweets when he comes to see you. Is it your soul mate? Or even someone you have had your differences with over the years but now its great, maybe you have just got to know your dad after all these years.

Imagine now if in one split second... they were gone!

• No time for a last hug....not even a little one.

• No time to tell them how much you love them and how much they mean to you.

• Not even time to tell them that you were sorry for that silly argument.

• You will not be able call them next week to ask them about stuff.

• You will never see them again! Ever!

Do you know what changed things for ever that day? A MOBILE PHONE !

My beautiful sister Ellen was knocked down while walking home. She was on the pavement and yards from her house.

The young driver was using his mobile phone and lost control and ploughed into her. She didn't stand a chance and died soon after.

We are a large family and some of my brothers and sisters are still too distressed to talk about what happened that day.

She had a difficult upbringing. Most people did in those days, but she was a fantastic doting mother and Ellen was also a grandmother to three lovely girls, who still ask for their nanna today.

The driver pleaded guilty and was banned from driving and fined. The family were outraged, but the law at that time meant he avoided a custodial sentence. The law has since changed and if this were to happen today it would be highly likely he would be jailed.

Soon after, and with the help of family and friends, I decided to start a campaign, first of all to raise awareness to the dangers of using a mobile phone when driving. Also to try to prevent the destruction that it has caused to Ellen's family and friends from happening to others.

We would like to turn this tragedy into something positive and help others avoid terrible injuries and loss of life.

Ellen would have done this, she was that sort of beautiful caring person.

Love and miss you Ellen x

Handsoff is NOT just another campaign !

The dangers of using a mobile / cell phone are clearly documented. There is clear evidence that driving and using a phone don't mix. Together they form a lethal cocktail and with more evidence being collected each day, it is becoming clear that to continue to do nothing is not an option.
UK law and mobile phone use while driving

The legal position regarding using a mobile phone while driving in the UK is covered in The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) (Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2003. See

Which states that:

(1) No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a road if he is using -

(a) a hand-held mobile telephone; or

(b) a hand-held device of a kind.

(2) No person shall cause or permit any other person to drive a motor vehicle on a road while that other person is using -

(a) a hand-held mobile telephone; or

(b) a hand-held device of a kind specified in paragraph (4).

(3) No person shall supervise a holder of a provisional licence if the person supervising is using -

(a) a hand-held mobile telephone; or

(b) a hand-held device of a kind specified in paragraph (4),

at a time when the provisional licence holder is driving a motor vehicle on a road.

The Road Safety Act-2006: Clause 26


Which amended section 41 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 to say:

41D Breach of requirements as to control of vehicle, mobile telephones etc.

A person who contravenes or fails to comply with a construction and use requirement as to not driving or supervising the driving of a motor vehicle while using a hand-held mobile telephone or other hand-held interactive communication device, or not causing or permitting the driving of a motor vehicle by another person using such a telephone or other device, is guilty of an offence.

Good practice driver communication on mobile phone use while driving

Research and landmark case lead to calls for organisations and drivers to review policies on use of mobile communication equipment while driving.

In what is seen as a landmark case, a sales boss, called Marie Howden, who was using a legal hands-free phone when she crashed and killed another driver, was recently found guilty of causing death by careless driving. The prosecutor said: 'She lost control because she was distracted by the call. The collision would not have happened if she had not been on the phone and had been paying attention.' Her final call was to a work colleague at 8.23am which lasted five minutes before she lost control of her car. She later told officers: 'It is entirely legal to use a mobile phone with a hands-free kit. I regularly make and receive calls while driving. My car is effectively my office'.

The court heard Howden had earlier been seen swerving across the road and that 'minutes before the crash she was seen in the wrong lane and drove in front of a car. She was using a hands-free kit with wired headphones attached when she fatally crashed in November 2007.

This story, and news that 3M has recently banned all types of mobile phone use while driving, has added weight to the increasingly compelling body of research from around the globe quantifying the dangers of communication equipment use and driving:

• University of Utah research published in 2002 showed that drivers using a hand-held or hands free phone missed twice as many hazards as when not using the phone, due to attention diversion.

• Research from Western Australia, published in the British Medical Journal, found that driving while talking on a mobile phone - whether hand-held or hands-free - increases the risk of a collision by four times.

• A study commissioned by a leading UK insurance company revealed that talking on any mobile phone while driving is so mentally distracting that it is as dangerous as driving when slightly over the UK and US legal blood-alcohol limit of 0.08. 'Cognitive distraction' from a hands-free mobile phone is just as serious as that from a hand-held.

• The Transport Research laboratory (TRL) identified these stopping distances with different levels of impairment.

• Four TRL studies concluded that all car phone conversations and texting result in more drifting in lane, slower reaction time and more missed events.

Tony Holt, BT's Travel Safety Subject Matter Expert said:

'We suspect a lot of organisations will be nervously reviewing and tightening enforcement of their mobile phone polices again after seeing all this research, and the news generated by the Marie Howden case, which brings home the reality about driving using even a hands free mobile. Its vital that our drivers follow BT policy and the legal requirements at all times'.

We have therefore developed the following advice for managers and drivers.

Our advice to managers is that it can be an offence to require people to use mobile communication equipment while driving - you are asking them to 'drive while not in control of the vehicle'. Managers must:

• Lead by example.

• Tighten and enforce company policies limiting work and personal use of all mobile communication equipment while driving.

• Not accept any breaches of the law or company policy concerning the use of mobile communication equipment in vehicles. Any evidence, including complaints from other road users, of employees breaking these rules must be treated with the utmost seriousness.

• Supply 'engine on mobile communication equipment off' that cannot be used when vehicles are in motion.

• Ensure drivers use voicemail or call diversion and stop regularly to check messages and return calls.

• Think about the 'culture of mobile communication equipment use in your organisation, and if you contact an employee who may be driving:

1. Ask if it is safe to talk.

2. State how urgent the call is.

3. Keep the message brief and ask the driver to call you back when they stop.

Our advice to drivers is:

• Be fully aware of the legal requirements and company policy regarding use of mobile communication equipment.

• Plan each aspect of your journey before you start, enabling you to take regular breaks and deal with calls.

• If your phone rings while driving, allow the call to divert to message bank or voicemail.

• Stop in a safe place to take regular breaks to make a call or retrieve messages. Do not stop where you pose a hazard for other vehicles or pedestrians.

• Never take notes, write messages, look up phone numbers, read or send SMS messages while driving.

• Use mobile communication equipment in a responsible manner, being aware of your surrounding environment, respecting the reasonable expectation of others in your immediate vicinity, particularly in locations such as in hospitals and airports and on airplanes and trains.

• Do not use a mobile phone whilst driving as your major task is to arrive safely at your destination.

• Under no circumstances participate in conference calls while driving.

• Avoid using mobile communication equipment while driving.

• Ensure your Voicemail is activated or set up automatic diverts to other team members.

• Undertake critical calls and other mobile communication equipment use before starting your journey.

• Take regular breaks to deal with calls and messages.

• Ask your passengers to take and make calls on your behalf.

Even in cases where organisations feel the need to stop short of banning all use of mobile communication equipment while driving, managers and drivers should do everything they can should take all reasonable steps to ensure the safety of themselves, their people and other road users in the wider community.


This road safety communication is an example of the regular monthly mailings from Interactive Driving Systems®.
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