One in five believe they can drive safely while using mobile phone

09.48 | 25 June 2018 | | 5 comments

More than one in 10 UK drivers believe the road safety risks of using a mobile phone at the wheel are ‘overstated’, according to a new study.

The RAC study of 2,000 drivers suggests that 23% believe they can drive safely while using a mobile phone – with 11% saying the risks of the offence are ‘overstated’.

64% of respondent were unaware of the penalties for using a mobile phone at the wheel – while 26% did not know the penalties became more severe in March 2017.

When asked what is key to getting offenders to change their behaviour, 41% said more visible enforcement and 22% said stronger penalties. In total, 31% believe the current penalties are not strong enough.

The survey also shows that 18% of drivers advocate the blocking of mobile phone signals within cars altogether, while 10% think more public awareness campaigns, such as those run by the Government’s THINK! initiative, are needed to educate offenders.

Pete WIlliams, RAC road safety spokesman, said: “Despite extensive publicity and awareness-raising campaigns run at both a local and national level, it is remarkable that such a high proportion of drivers seemingly remain unaware of the current penalties for using a handheld phone at the wheel.

“The law around handheld phone use by drivers, and the penalties associated with ignoring it, could not be clearer.

“Yet every year there are dozens of fatal crashes caused by motorists who have allowed themselves to be distracted by their phone – and our own data suggests millions of drivers are continuing to put themselves and others at risk in this way.”

Chief constable Anthony Bangham, National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for roads policing, said: “The law surrounding mobile phone use behind the wheel has been widely publicised, and the increase in penalties last year is representative of how prevalent this dangerous practice is.

“However, notwithstanding the legal repercussions, the main thing we want drivers to do is arrive safely at their destinations.

“When you are driving, the priority should be the safety of yourself, your passengers, and your fellow road users. Whatever is happening on your mobile phone can always wait.”


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    Picking up on Hughs comment. I am not necessarily justifying but, what is the difference between answering a phone call and having a conversation with the phone a stack (single button push – no difference to removing a hand to, say, adjust a heating control) or, even in a vehicle in which a phone is integral, and having a conversation with a passenger? And by qualification, I generally do not have conversations, as such, with passengers when I am driving.

    Nigel ALBRIGHT
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    I wonder how many collisions involving the police (or other emergency vehicle) have occurred whilst the driver was driving with one hand (non-automatic) and with the other hand operating his lapel radio, talking and listening at the same time and at speed? I know it has to be done and it’s not exactly a casual, social conversation but I wonder why they don’t use the hands-free option when possible.

    Hugh Jones
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    The interesting point is, of course, whatever distracts a driver from the task in hand. It was John Miles, a former Hendon Advanced Wing Instructor, who wrote in 1970 the book, Expert Driving the Police Way, and what is probably still the best book on police driving, and who also became the first Course Manager of the BSM High Performance Course, who believed that even having a conversation with a passenger could induce a loss of attention. This, of course, long before the advent of mobile phones.

    Nigel ALBRIGHT
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    Isn’t this a fundamental problem with driving generally?

    Some drivers do think they can do certain frowned-upon and/or illegal things safely… until the day when it goes wrong. The ‘rules are for fools’ brigade.

    Yes it is possible to drive and use a phone without incident… for a while, but essentially you’re on borrowed time. Similarly, driving too fast and too close, to name two other common faults. Driving is one of those everyday activities where you have to concentrate on getting it right all the time and not drop your guard.

    Hugh Jones
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    Just goes to show just how little road safety is regarded out their with the general driving public. Are they not also aware that it is dangerous and can be an offence to smoke or drink or eat or other matters such as a free animal unrestrained in the vehicle. Many things can be dangerous and are seen all the time. A lack of knowledge, apathy and complacency abounds within the general driving population.

    I understand that if the vehicle was involved in an incident or collision and the insurance became aware of any of the above circumstances and more, that they could invalidate the policy holders insurance for that vehicle. They may pay out a third party but not any damage to their own vehicle or indeed injury payments to the policy holder/driver etc..

    Not many drivers are aware of this and perhaps they should be made more aware and in no uncertain terms that they could be financially liable as the insurance could totally invalidated their insurance as a result of these dangerous actions.

    Agree (4) | Disagree (3)

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