More than 200 drivers a day were caught using a mobile at the wheel in the four week period after tougher penalties for the offence came into effect, new figures obtained by the Press Association show.
The subject of a BBC News report yesterday (29 May), the figures were obtained through a Freedom of Information request to police forces across the UK.
In the 28 days from 1 March, when the doubled penalty of £200 and six penalty points came into force, 5,977 incidents were reported – more than a third of which were in London.
Figures obtained by BBC Radio Wales last week also showed that the number of Welsh motorists caught using their mobile phones went up in March 2017.
According to Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, the high number of people breaking the law means the ‘key message still isn’t sinking in’.
He told the BBC: “Driving is a safety-critical activity that requires our full attention. Hands need to be on the wheel and eyes looking out of the windscreen, not down at the phone screen.”
Details of incidents reported by police:
- A man doing his online banking while driving along the M5 motorway near Birmingham
- Norfolk Police stopped a woman who was responding to a message about her lost puppy being found
- A man using his phone while driving a 7.5-tonne lorry around a roundabout in Bournemouth
On the back of the new figures, road safety charity Brake called for the £200 fine to be ‘significantly increased’ to deter offenders.
Jack Kushner, Brake spokesman, said: “Driver distraction is a growing menace and it’s worrying that drivers don’t seem to be getting the message.”
AA president Edmund King said changing drivers’ attitudes would take time, stressing the need for education and enforcement.
He told the BBC: “We know we can’t change the attitudes and actions of all drivers overnight.
“We now have stricter penalties so need to continue with education campaigns (including driving schools) plus more police enforcement.”
In 2015 – the latest year for which figures are available – 22 people were killed and 99 seriously injured in accidents where a driver was using their phone.
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