Almost a third of motorists admit to using a handheld mobile phone while driving – and this worrying figure is rising.
In 2014, around 8% of people said they had illegally used a handheld phone behind the wheel, an RAC survey found.
The proportion of drivers who confessed to sending a message or posting on social media rose from 7% to 19% over the same period.
Some 14% of motorists even owned up to taking photographs or videos with their phone while driving.
The RAC says the use of handheld mobiles is “the biggest road safety concern among motorists today”.
The breakdown organisation says having fewer dedicated road policing officers in England and Wales (excluding London) between 2010 and 2015 has left drivers with little to no fear of being caught.
The survey of 1,714 UK motorists for the RAC’s annual Report on Motoring found that 7% of those who admitted using a mobile while driving said they did it because they knew they would get away with it.
Others claim they used their phones in an emergency (23%) and 21% said they needed information for their journey. Around 12% replied it was simply something they were in the habit of doing.
Department for Transport (DfT) figures show that a driver being impaired or distracted by their phone was the root cause of 492 accidents in Britain in 2014, including 21 that were fatal and 84 classed as serious.
The Government is due to publish the results of a consultation which proposes introducing tougher punishments for illegal mobile use by drivers.
For non-HGV drivers the minimum fine is expected to rise from £100 to £150, while the number of penalty points issued is set to increase from three to four.
RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said, “There is clear evidence that the illegal use of handheld phones by drivers to talk, text, tweet, post, browse and even video call is, if anything, on the increase.
“It is alarming to see that some drivers have clearly relaxed their attitudes to the risks associated with this behaviour but more worrying is the increase in the percentage of motorists who actually admit to using a handheld device when driving.”
Source: The Guardian
Date Published: September 24, 2016
Author: Jonathan Brown