More than 26,000 motorists – including 500 novice drivers who had their licences revoked – have been caught using a mobile phone since tougher penalties came into force.
On 1 March 2017, the penalties for the offence doubled from £100 and three penalty points to £200 and six points.
To mark the first anniversary of the introduction of the new penalties, THINK! is highlighting the chances of being caught in a series of adverts which will run on radio, social media, on demand video and in shopping centres, as part of its ongoing campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of using a mobile phone while driving.
Road Safety GB is calling on drivers to ‘work out for themselves’ that it is ‘totally obvious you cannot do well two things at once’, and therefore using a mobile phone can lead to ‘life-changing or life-ending crash situations’
Jesse Norman, road safety minister, said: “The penalties for holding and using a mobile phone while driving have proven to be a strong deterrent, and more and more people are aware of just how dangerous this is
“But some motorists are still not only putting their own lives at risk, but the lives of others.
“Everyone has a role to play to encourage drivers to put their phone away and not use it while at the wheel.”
Almost 2,000 motorists – 74% of whom were male – were handed fines as part of a national crackdown between 22-28 January, organised by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC).
Chief constable Anthony Bangham, NPCC lead for roads policing, said: “In the year since the new legislation was introduced, we have started to see changes in driver behaviour as the public begin to understand the impact that driving whilst using a mobile phone can have.
“However, there are still far too many people underestimating the risk that they take when using their mobile phone at the wheel.
“We used intelligence to identify hotspots and repeat offences to stop over 3,000 drivers in one week. 66.5% of which were committing a mobile phone related offence.”
Steve Horton, Road Safety GB director of communications, said: “A meaningful level of punishment is important to help drivers appreciate the magnitude of the offence, and the size of fine and points given to those caught makes it very clear that the offence is taken seriously.
“To properly benefit from this deterrent, the fear of detection needs to be at the front of every driver’s mind – and as police forces target this behaviour with more visible policing, the likelihood of being caught is increasing.
“But ideally drivers would work it out for themselves; it’s totally obvious that you cannot do well two things at once – one of those things will dominate your attention and it’s always the use of the phone that detracts from safe driving.
“Talking, texting and accessing apps will impair a driver’s ability to focus on what really is important – maintaining control of a large, heavy object while mixing with other road users. Get that wrong and you don’t just misspell a message, you create life-changing or life-ending crash situations.
“Those extreme violators who persist with thinking it’s OK, or they won’t get caught, are kidding themselves and placing the rest of us at risk – and they should rightly face the full weight of prosecution.”
THINK! says that following the March 2017 campaign, nine in 10 people were aware of the new penalties. The campaign’s adverts were seen by around 29 million people and social media content was seen by a further 12 million people.
And the THINK! ‘Pink Kitten’ video, which highlighted how much you miss if you glance at your phone while driving, reached an audience of about 21 million people in October 2017.