Thumbs up phones down

Back for its eighth year, My Red Thumb's aim is to help reduce unnecessary road traffic casualties by encouraging drivers to break the habit and stop being distracted by mobile phones whilst driving. Not only does driving safely protect the driver, passengers and other road users, it also supports our 999 service and the NHS by preventing road traffic collisions.

Last year, we attended 216 road traffic collisions. We are once again supporting My Red Thumb Day, on Wednesday 12 May 2021, and we are asking all drivers to support the campaign by wearing a red thumb band, or painting a thumbnail red, as a reminder not to be distracted by texting while at the wheel.

Share your thumb selfie

Share your thumb selfie on your social media on Wednesday 12th May 2021 and tag Devon Air Ambulance and My Red Thumb. Need some thumb selfie inspiration? Check out the My Red Thumb gallery.

If you haven’t got a red thumb band, don’t worry, simply paint your thumb nail red to achieve the same effect. When people ask you about your red thumb, you can tell them about the campaign and encourage them to take the same action.

Break the habit

Like all those affected by such incidents, we want to help reduce road traffic collisions as close as possible to zero. 

Mobiles are officially recognised as addictive, but there are lots of things you can do to help break the habit of being distracted by your mobile whilst at the wheel.

Some facts about using your phone while driving

The information below is from the My Red Thumb website:

A lot of research shows that using a phone to text, or even a hands-free mobile phone whilst driving, present significant distraction, and greatly increases the risk of the driver crashing.

Drivers who use a mobile phone whether hand-held or hands-free:

  • are four times more likely to crash injuring or killing themselves and/or other people
  • are much less aware of what's happening on the road around them
  • fail to see road signs
  • fail to maintain proper lane position and steady speed
  • are more likely to 'tailgate' the vehicle in front
  • react more slowly and take longer to brake
  • are more likely to enter unsafe gaps in traffic
  • feel more stressed and frustrated

Using a hands-free phone while driving does not significantly reduce the risks because the problems are caused mainly by the mental distraction and divided attention of taking part in a phone conversation at the same time as driving.

Remember it isn’t just speaking – texting and using smartphones can be even more distracting than talking on your phone.

The other outcomes of using a phone whilst driving

Beyond the potential significantly increased risk of injury or death to other road users and pedestrians, there are other repercussions to using a mobile phone whilst driving.

Since March 2017 the law changed to include the following penalties:

  • If you are caught driving while using a mobile it’s a £200 fine and Six points - this means that if you are within the first 2 years of passing your test you will lose your license and have to retake your theory and practical tests again!
  • If you cause an accident and kill someone you are likely to go to prison
  • Police will check phone records when investigating a fatal collision or serious injury

Unfortunately, our medical team attend hundreds of road traffic collisions each year, many of which could have been avoided were the driver not distracted. 

We want to these sad statistics to go right down, and you can help us by raising awareness of the My Red Thumb campaign. Read more about the campaign, some real stories and the latest news on the campaign website.