New mobile phone penalties ‘undermined by lack of enforcement’ – Brake

13.27 | 13 December | | 5 comments


The road safety charity Brake says enforcement of the new mobile phone penalties ‘stalled’ just one month after they were introduced in March 2017.

Figures obtained by Brake via a FOI request to the DVLA show that 10,428 drivers in England, Scotland and Wales received penalty points for illegal mobile phone use between March and June 2017.

However more than half of those (5,258) occurred during a nationwide police crackdown in March – with the number of motorists receiving points for the offence falling to 1,865 in April and 1,387 in June.

Regionally, the highest number of penalties in the four month period were given to drivers in Greater London (2,186), followed by Essex (580), the West Midlands (372), Hampshire (348) and Kent (308)

The increased penalties introduced in March 2017 – six penalty points and a £200 fine – mean drivers who have held a full licence for less than two years, face losing their licence for just one offence.

Brake’s FOI data shows that 104 new drivers in Britain lost their licence for the offence in March 2017, but this dropped to 36 in April and 22 in June.

Brake is calling for a renewed focus by police forces on enforcement of mobile phone laws, to ‘reduce deadly crashes’.

Jason Wakeford, director of campaigns for Brake, said: “Illegal mobile phone use at the wheel is a growing menace to road safety.

“Given the scale of the problem, the fact that so few drivers have received points is deeply troubling.

“Tougher laws are a big step forward, but they must be accompanied by rigorous enforcement if they are to work. It’s essential that police forces send out a clear message that drivers who flout the law will be caught and punished.”


Featured image: RAC


 

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    The point of increasing the penalty is to act as a deterrent. If people are still not complying how does prosecuting an individual have any deterrent effect except for to the person concerned, unless their prosecution is very well advertised. Does a reduction in prosecutions mean there is ‘bad’ policing or that the deterrent is working? If the new penalties were 100% effective then prosecutions would be at a zero level.


    Derek, Hertfordshire
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    0

    Good point by Derek and logically, he’s quite right.


    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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    What’s news? The police, in roads policing, are not around to enforce the existing laws, so what is the use of bringing in new ones?

    There seems to be a parallel here with the news item this morning that Bath and North Somerset have spent some £870,000 on implementing 20mph speed limits, only to find that the accident rate has gone up. The reason stated is that pedestrians feel more confident and therefore are not as careful but, to my mind this, again in the light of the lack of police presence and action, would be likely to cause greater frustration in motorists who already do not respect the 30mph speed limits. Trying to force them down to 20mph would have predictable results.

    Moral; if you are going to have laws, first make sure you have the means to enforce them or else you are just encouraging more abuse of them.


    Nigel Albright
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    +3

    People are not getting caught because we have fired all of our coppers. Perhaps unwittingly, Derek has picked up on one of Sir Robert Peel’s tenets on policing.

    The sign of an effective police force is an absence of crime. This could legitimately be extended to the judiciary in all of its forms.

    I have a newish car with all the clever hands free kit on it. It has a top speed of 123 mph and at this speed I can compose, send, receive and read texts on the screen, change various parameters on the car and so forth. This is all legal because it is hands free. This is ignoring the fact that I am staring at the dashboard not the road.

    Again, if we are to be effective, Construction and Use regulations need to change to that most of this functionality is disabled when the engine is running. A simple voltage detectors linked to disabling software would do the trick.

    Once again, we are focusing on inputs rather than outcomes.


    Kevan, Southsea
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    +2

    I am afraid that I have a much more cynical view of human nature. Any potential increase in penalties is of no consequence to those who have weighed up their chances of being caught and found them to virtually zero. They therefore continue to use their phones exactly as they have done in the past.

    Tragically, we have almost completely lost dedicated Roads Policing in the UK. Those that remain have very little time for enforcement, so prosecutions for driving while using a phone are at a very low level, despite my seeing drivers doing it on almost any journey I undertake.

    Derek’s argument would mean that we do not have a problem with Female Genital Mutilation in this country as we have no prosecutions for the offence…


    David, Suffolk
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    0