Mobile phone use at the wheel ‘still rife’
95% of motorists regularly see other drivers looking at their phones in stationary traffic, according to a new survey by the RAC.
Published today (25 April), the RAC says the results show that ‘illegal mobile phone use is still rife’, highlighting a lack of publicity and the decline in the number of roads police officers.
64% of the more than 2,000 drivers interviewed said that in the last hour they spent driving they saw at least one driver committing the offence. Of those, 6% claimed they saw between five and seven drivers breaking the law.
The current fine for using a handheld mobile phone when driving is three penalty points and a £100 fine. In January, the DfT launched a consultation into increasing penalties for mobile phone use.
30% of respondents to the survey admitted using a handheld phone at the wheel; 29% claimed they do so occasionally while the other 1% show ‘utter contempt for the current law’ by using their handheld phone on most journeys.
The main reason cited by 61% of respondents was to make a short call, while 49% of those admitting to using a mobile said they had checked email or text messages, and a similar percentage (47%) had sent a text message.
While the survey suggests there is little difference in illegal phone use between male and female drivers (64% male compared to 57% female), a much higher percentage of females confessed to sending a text message (52% compared to 5%).
Simon Williams, RAC spokesman, said: “13 years after the introduction of the current law forbidding use of a handheld phone at the wheel of a vehicle, this behaviour is far from being stamped out. In fact, the results of our research suggests the problem has got worse rather than better.
“The lack of a high profile advertising campaign similar to the ones targeting drink-drivers and speeders has not helped, nor has the decline in the number of roads police officers as there is very little fear among offenders of being caught.
“As a society we need to change drivers’ thinking to make them understand the serious consequences their decision to use their handheld phones can have. Using a handheld phone should be regarded as being as socially unacceptable as drinking and driving.”
Photo credit: RAC