Over 4,000 Londoners fined for using their phones while driving in 18% rise in a year

Motorists can be handed six penalty points and a £200 fine for holding a phone while they are behind the wheel (PA Wire)
Motorists can be handed six penalty points and a £200 fine for holding a phone while they are behind the wheel (PA Wire)

More than 4,000 Londoners were caught using their phone while driving in 2021 - an increase of almost 20 per cent on the previous year.

Home Office data reveals that the Metropolitan Police caught the most distracted drivers out of any other police force area in England and Wales, with 4,196 people receiving a fixed penalty notice for using their phone.

Across England and Wales the number of fines issued for using a hand-held device rose by 10 percent between 2020 and 2021.

MPs and road safety campaigners are calling for greater police enforcement.

Alistair Carmichael, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael told The Times that the figures are “deeply worrying” and suggest the number of accidents is also increasing.

He claimed that fines are not enough of a deterrent, and called for more “visible policing”.

A total of 19,655 handed fixed-penalty notices were issued last year compared with 17,873 in 2020.

Meanwhile, Cheshire and Derbyshire police recorded a doubling in penalties between 2020 and 2021.

Drivers have been banned from using mobile phones in the UK since 2003, but the law was updated in March this year.

Motorists were initially banned from texting or making a phone call – other than in an emergency – while using a handheld device.

Further to that, from March 25, drivers in England Scotland and Wales haven’t been allowed to take photos or videos, scroll through playlists or access apps on their phones when driving.

Drivers face a £200 fixed-penalty notice and six points on their licence.

When the Government unveiled the new rules in November 2021, analysis showed that 17 people were killed on Britain’s roads the previous year in crashes involving drivers distracted by mobile phones.

Security minister Tom Tugendhat was fined £1,000 and banned from driving for six months after being caught using his mobile phone while driving his Skoda on Wandsworth High Street on April 14 this year.

Road Safety charity Brake claims using any phone behind the wheel makes drivers four times more likely to be in a crash.

Research has shown that after using a phone it can take half a minute to regain full attention, during which time driving is impaired, Brake said.

Fatal crashes in recent years show just how dangerous using phones while driving can be for drivers.

A hit-and-run driver who ran down and killed a cyclist while chatting on his phone and ignoring one-way signs was jailed for eight years.

In 2019 Reuben Richardson, 38, ran down and killed a cyclist while chatting on his phone and ignoring one-way signs. He was jailed for eight years for killing 51-year-old IT worker Antonio Marchesini, dragging the victim and his bike along the road before ditching his Mercedes and running away.

In October this year Simon Draper, a van driver, was jailed for five years after he was found to have been switching between social media apps on his phone moments before ploughing into Lynwen Thomas, an off-duty police sergeant, as she cycled home in Carmarthen.