UK drivers still using mobiles despite harsher penalties

feedback@motor1.com (Sam Burnett)
Mobile phone

An RAC survey has found that drivers are continuing to use their phones behind the wheel.

The latest research from the RAC suggests that drivers are still clueless about the penalties involved when they use their mobile phones while driving. 

The breakdown association took a survey of 2,000 UK drivers that found just 36 percent of motorists could correctly state that the current penalties are six points and a £200 fine for using a handheld mobile while driving. A quarter (26 percent) were not aware the penalties became more severe in March 2017.

Of those who persist in using a handheld phone an overwhelming majority (87 percent) said it is something they just do on their own and not when others are in the car. Seventy-eight percent said they continue to do it despite fearing they will get caught by a police officer, while nearly a quarter (23 percent) think they can safely drive and use a handheld phone at the same time. One in 10 drivers (11 percent) say they believe the road safety risks of combining driving with something as distracting as using a handheld phone are ‘overstated’.

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RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: ‘Despite extensive publicity and awareness-raising campaigns run at both a local and national level, it is remarkable that such a high proportion of drivers seemingly remain unaware of the current penalties for using a handheld phone at the wheel.

‘The law around handheld phone use by drivers, and the penalties associated with ignoring it, could not be clearer. Yet every year there are dozens of fatal crashes caused by motorists who have allowed themselves to be distracted by their phone – and our own data suggests millions of drivers are continuing to put themselves and others at risk in this way.’

Chief constable Anthony Bangham, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for roads policing, added: ‘The law surrounding mobile phone use behind the wheel has been widely publicised, and the increase in penalties last year is representative of how prevalent this dangerous practice is. However, notwithstanding the legal repercussions, the main thing we want drivers to do is arrive safely at their destinations.

‘When you are driving, the priority should be the safety of yourself, your passengers, and your fellow road users. Whatever is happening on your mobile phone can always wait.’