Image: BBC News
New figures obtained by BBC Radio Wales show that the number of Welsh motorists caught using their mobile phones went up in March 2017, despite the introduction of harsher penalties.
Published yesterday (22 May), the figures show that 166 motorists were stopped by police for using their phones in March – up from 137 in February.
The figure remains way below January, when 259 offenders were stopped by Wales’ four police forces. These could however be explained by a week long enforcement campaign that month, led by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC).
As of 1 March 2017, drivers caught using a mobile phone face being given six penalty points on their licence rather than three, and a £200 fine instead of £100. These increased penalties mean new drivers caught using a mobile phone face losing their licence.
The new Welsh statistics appear to support the results of a survey, published last week, which suggest that despite the introduction of the tougher penalties, as many as two thirds of motorists may still be using their device at the wheel.
In the survey, published by the price comparison website MyCarNeedsA.com, 66% of respondents admitted to texting when stationary in traffic, 37% confessed to checking social media and 18% to making calls.
Lucy Amos, from road safety charity Brake, told BBC News: "Mobile phone use behind the wheel is a growing menace and it’s time we got tough with those who break the law.
"These drivers are putting their own and other people’s lives in grave danger.
"As a charity that supports bereaved and seriously injured road crash victims we know only too well the devastation and heartbreak caused by distracted drivers and have been campaigning on this issue for a number of years.
"We would also like to see a total ban on phone use as even using hands-free increases your likelihood of being involved in a crash. It’s the distraction of the conversation that’s the main danger."
Want to know more about mobile phones and road safety?
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