More drivers using mobile phones behind the wheel

06.41 | 11 December 2009 | | 2 comments

Alan Kennedy, chair of Road Safety GB, has called for the introduction of technology to prevent drivers using a mobile phone while a car engine is running.

The call follows research by the Transport Research Laboratory showing that more drivers are using hand-held mobile phones than before tougher penalties were introduced two years ago,.

The TRL report says that 2.6% of car drivers were using hand-held mobile phones in 2006, but this almost halved to 1.4% the following year, when tougher penalties were brought in. The fine was doubled to £60 and three points were put on offenders’ licences.

But since then the number has been rising and this year 2.8% of car drivers were found using a hand-held mobile – more than before the tougher penalties came into force.
The report also says that taxi and van drivers are also now more likely to use a hand-held mobile phone than they were before the penalties were increased.

It also shows that hands-free mobile use by car drivers has risen consistently, from 1.2% in 2006 to 4.8% in 2009.

Alan Kennedy, chair of Road Safety GB, said: "Drivers who continue to use their mobile phones when behind the wheel would appear to have little understanding of the grave danger they pose to themselves and other road users.  As well as having no respect for other road users, they are also not deterred by the threat of being caught by the police. 

"The change in law has clearly had no effect and it is now time to consider technology that would prevent a phone being used in a car while the engine is running."

Click here to read the full BBC News report.


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    Have to say that once again I totally agree with Roy. The whole point about this is that legislation is only effective if it is enforced properly – people don’t think they are going to get caught so they carry on using their phones. They don’t think “I might kill myself or someone else”.

    More proper, fully trained, traffic police would lead to the enforcement of many other traffic laws that technology alone cannot police, and also the enforcement of criminal law – as criminals use the roads too (but I think we know that).

    Vince Morley – RSO Milton Keynes
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    The item carried on the BBC News high-lighted, yet again, the need for the return of police officers in Traffic Divisions. It was emphasised in the News that the higher penalty has been no deterent because the chances of being caught were so slim. That same morning, whilst motorcycling to work, I could have reported seven drivers had I been back on my old police bike instead of my own bike. In 1967, when attending the Police Driving School at Hendon, a demonstration showed how distraction affected reaction times. An instructor made conversation with you whilst you were driving on the simulator. The reaction time nearly doubled. Whilst Alan’s technological answer is OK it does not beat a traffic Patrol Officer who will prevent and detect the whole range of Traffic Law all the time he is on the road. Roads Policing must become a if not The priority in our campaigning.

    Roy Buchanan, Principal Road Safety Officer, Sutton
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