New laws that were introduced in 2016 to help reduce the number of motorists caught using a mobile phone while driving. 12 months on, however, research carried out with 1,727 motorists for the RAC’s Report on Motoring 2017 shows the changes have not stopped around 9.2m drivers breaking the law on a regular basis.
The new penalties were joined by a hard-hitting adverting campaign aimed at showing drivers the serious dangers associated with using a mobile phone whilst driving. The campaign is a joint production from Think! and the AA Charity Trust, the full can be found campaign can be found here.
New drivers within the first two years of passing their tests will have their licences revoked and be ordered to retake both their theory and driving tests. More experienced drivers will receive a £200 fine and 6 points on their licences, meaning that they would also risk losing their licences if found to be breaking the new laws twice within a year.
According to the Transport Research Laboratory, using a mobile device reduces reaction time by as much as half and is as dangerous as drink driving. Since 2011 the number of incidents caused by drivers using a mobile device has risen by a quarter, with 22 fatalities and 99 serious injuries caused by text-driving in 2015 alone.
The new figures show every figure for every form of illegal handheld phone use is worse when vehicles are stationary compared to on-the-move, indicating that many motorists think that it is safe to interact with a handheld phone when stopped in traffic. This year four in 10 (40% or 15.9m) motorists owned up to talking on their phone when stationary in traffic compared to 48% in 2016 – a 16.6% fall – a far lesser reduction than those who admit doing it while driving (25%). The reduction for all illegal phone use while driving is down 28.7% on 2016 whereas the stationary equivalent reduced by just 20.1%.
RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: “Twelve months ago our research revealed that the illegal use of handheld mobile phones by drivers was at epidemic proportions – a year on and the situation still remains dire."