One in three drivers in the UK admit to using a mobile phone while driving, despite the fact that laws banning the practice have been in force for nine years.
New research by LV= car insurance reveals that since the law came into force in 2003, just over one million motorists have been caught illegally using a mobile phone when driving. On average 100,000 motorists are fined each year for using a mobile phone behind the wheel.
Offence of driving whilst using a mobile phone
Using a mobile phone while driving is a criminal offence, and if caught you are likely to end up with a £60 fine and three penalty points on your licence. The court also now has a discretionary power to disqualify you from driving.
Despite this, one in five motorists (18%) still think it is acceptable to using a mobile phone while driving, and almost one in 20 (4%) say they think it’s unlikely that they will get caught – and admit they are undeterred by the current penalties.
Indeed, some police forces appear to be better than others at tackling mobile phone use while driving. LV= has obtained statistics from 40 police forces around the country, assessing how many times the offence was recorded in each force area.
Strathclyde Police is one of the most effective forces, catching 19,952 drivers in 2012. It is second only to the Metropolitan Police, which caught 21,931 motorists over the same period.
Impact of using a hand-held behind the wheel
Of those who admit to using a mobile phone while driving, more than three quarters (77%) will answer calls and half (49%) will text. Many motorists also access the internet on their phones whilst in control of a vehicle, using their devices to look at emails, check directions and to log-on to social networking sites.
Using a hand-held phone behind the wheel can be highly dangerous for both the driver and other road users, as findings from an observational roadside study by LV= reveals.
In the study at four cities in the UK, researchers found one in every 20 vehicles was driven by someone using their phone. These drivers were twice as likely as other motorists to be driving erratically and behaviour seen included reckless driving, speeding and sudden braking.
These motorists were also much less road aware, with almost one in three (30%) failing to stop at a pedestrian crossing, compared with just one in ten (10%) drivers who were not using a hand-held phone.
“It’s been nearly ten years since legislation banning the use of hand-held phones when driving was introduced, so it’s worrying to see that many motorists are continuing to use their devices when on the road,” said John O’Roarke, Managing Director of LV= car insurance.
“While it can seem tempting for people to use their phones at the wheel, whilst driving they should always pull over to make a call, send a text or browse the internet. By not doing so they risk points, a fine, or even worse causing an accident,” he warned.