As of this week, people caught using their mobile phones while driving in England, Scotland and Wales will face tougher penalties, including twice as many penalty points and increased fines.
The dangers of using a handheld phone while driving – 22 people were killed and 99 seriously injured in road accidents involving drivers using a mobile phone in Britain 2016 – were emphasised by the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, who said the behaviour was as “inexcusable as drink-driving”.
And for once, it would appear, most British people agree. A 2016 e-Survey of Road Users’ Attitudes found that 61% of UK road users supported zero tolerance for drivers who use their mobile phones while driving, the highest proportion of respondents in any of the 17 countries surveyed.
But while UK respondents were the least likely to use their mobile when driving among the nationalities surveyed, the proportion of drivers who admitted to doing so was still high. One in four Britons admitted to reading a text or email while driving, and one in five said they had sent a message while driving in the past 12 months.