Stakeholders call for action to tackle mobile phone ‘epidemic’
The RAC and road safety charity Brake have both called for more to be done to deter drivers from using a mobile while driving, following the sentencing of a lorry driver who killed a mum and three children when he crashed as a result of looking at his mobile phone.
Tomasz Kroker was jailed for 10 years after pleading guilty to four counts of causing death by dangerous driving. He was scrolling through music on his phone when the lorry he was driving smashed into a stationary car on the A34 near Newbury on 10 August, killing the driver and all three passengers.
Judge Maura McGowan said his attention had been so poor he "might as well have had his eyes closed".
At the conclusion of the trial, the RAC said a ‘concerted, sustained effort’ is needed to tackle the ‘epidemic’ of illegal handheld phone use.
RAC research published in September suggests 11m motorists admit to making or receiving a call while driving in the last 12 months. Part of the RAC’s Report on Motoring 2016, the research also highlights that attitudes towards handheld mobile use have ‘worryingly relaxed’ over the last two years.
Pete Williams, RAC road safety spokesman, said: “This is a horrific case which serves to highlight the menace of handheld mobile phone at the wheel.
“A concerted, sustained effort is needed from government, the police and indeed all of us as individual motorists to tackle the epidemic of illegal handheld phone use.
“The RAC advocates a combined approach to stamp out the practice which should include stronger enforcement of the existing law, harsher penalties for those caught and, crucially, a comprehensive package of driver education that challenges the commonly-held attitude that a quick check of a handheld phone while driving is somehow acceptable.”
Brake is calling for urgent changes to criminal driving laws, as well as the banning of hands-free calls and restrictions on the use of in-car-app enabling screens. The road safety charity is using its ‘Roads to Justice’ campaign to call for a full review of charging, sentencing and guidelines.
Gary Rae, campaigns director for Brake, said: "There could be no more shocking example of why using a mobile phone behind the wheel is so dangerous.
“This was no ‘accident’ but four lives violently ended by a criminal driver who wasn't looking at the road. A 10-year sentence, of which he will probably serve just five, doesn’t begin to do justice to the grieving families.
“We need action from the government now; prison sentences for criminal drivers who kill must be strengthened. We need increased penalties for illegal phone use behind the wheel and hands-free calls must also be banned.
“We also need more investment in road traffic policing, so drivers breaking mobile-phone laws know they will be caught and punished."
In September, the Government announced that the penalty for using a hand held mobile phone while driving is to double from three points and a £100 fine, to six points and a £200 fine.
Want to know more about mobile phones and driver distraction?
Online library of research and reports etc - visit the Road Safety Knowledge Centre
Key facts and summaries of research reports - visit the Road Safety Observatory