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UK test of new warning system could cause distraction to drivers

2 min to readDriver safety
The UK government will send a test alert notification on Sunday 23rd April at 3pm to all UK Smartphones. It allows the government and emergency services to send urgent messages warning the public of life-threatening situations like flooding or wildfires.
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UK motorists are being warned to be aware of a nationwide test of a new warning system that will take place on 23rd April. The system involves an alert siren and a warning message being sent to mobile phones and devices, which people will need to acknowledge even if their phone is locked. The aim of the system is to issue warnings in the event of a life-threatening situation in the future, and it is hoped that to ensure the test is a success as many people as possible participate.

However, there are concerns that the test could cause problems for people who are on the road at the time the siren sounds, as the unexpected alert could mean that drivers, motorcyclists or cyclists reach for their phone, and if even they are expecting the message they may still be distracted.

To avoid any incidents related to the alert, we are urging fleet managers to speak to their drivers to ensure that they know what and when it is going to happen and provide a reminder to drivers what the approach should be in line with existing mobile phone use policy. In addition, motorway signs will be used to advise drivers not to check their phones and devices.

The alert will state:

“This is a test of Emergency Alerts, a new UK Government service that will warn you if there’s a life-threatening emergency nearby. In an actual emergency, follow the instructions in the alert to keep yourself and others safe. Visit for more information. This is a test. You do not need to take any action.”

It is also worth noting that the test alert can be turned off via smart phone settings, under Notifications [Extreme Alerts / Severe Alerts ] but the government are hoping that most people will keep the option to allow warnings to be issued in the event of a life-threatening situation in the future.

In summary, where the new warning system has the potential to save lives, it is important that motorists are aware of the test – and that Fleet Managers look at current mobile phone and distracted driving policies so they are confident that as technology evolves, their policy has too.

To find out more about how to keep people safe now, and in the future explore our FleetRisk section of our website.

Published at 18 April 2023
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18 April 2023
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