The number of fixed penalty notices (FPNs) issued to motorists for using a handheld mobile phone while driving has ‘fallen off a cliff’, according to the RAC.
The RAC made the claim on the back of new Home Office figures which show that the number of FPNs issued for a wide range of offences including careless driving, jumping traffic lights and using a mobile phone have all declined significantly.
The RAC says this is a consequence of ‘scant police resources being focused elsewhere’.
In contrast to other offences, the number of FPNs issued for speeding has risen by 6%, as a result of ‘speed cameras employed on a grand scale to catch offenders and automatically issue notices’, according to the RAC.
The Home Office data shows that between 2014 and 2015, police forces in England and Wales issued 43% fewer notices for mobile phone offences. Looking at the longer term, the 2015 figure of 16,900 represents a ‘staggering’ 86% fall since 2011 when 123,100 notices were issued.
In September, the Government announced that the penalty for using a hand held mobile phone while driving is to double from three points and a £100 fine to six points and a £200 fine. However, the RAC says that drivers no longer fear punishment for the offence.
Pete Williams, RAC road safety spokesman, said: “Figures released today (27 Oct) by the Home Office are a stark indication that the sharp fall in the number of dedicated roads policing officers in England and Wales has led to a 29% fall in the number of fixed penalty notices for key motoring offences in the five years to 2015.
“The number of FPNs issued for handheld mobile phone use has fallen by 86% between 2011 and 2015, the number given for neglecting traffic and pedestrian lights has dropped by 65%, and for parking offences has declined by 67% in the same period.
“The evidence is plain to see – the reduction in dedicated roads policing officers has been matched by a sharp fall in the number of penalty notices which is sending the message to many drivers that they unlikely to be caught for these motoring offences which rely on the physical presence of an officer to be detected and caught.”