A road safety charity has called for motorists who cause fatal accidents while using their mobile phone at the wheel to be handed stiffer penalties.
Analysis by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) of 11 recent prosecutions involving mobile phone use found that the average sentence for causing death by
dangerous driving is four-and-a-half years in prison and a seven-year driving ban.
In all of the cases investigated, the convicted drivers were found to have lost their concentration as a result of using their phone.
Six of the road traffic accidents involved vehicles running into the back of a stationary or slow-moving queue of traffic, or a broken down vehicle.
In three of the incidents vehicles drifted across the road and hit another vehicle head-on, while two accidents involved the death of a pedestrian.
Texting or phoning at the wheel is clearly unsafe, but drivers continually fail to heed the warnings. The Accident Advice Helpline deals with compensation claims every day from people who have been injured as a result of irresponsible drivers.
Most people agree that using a mobile phone while driving is extremely
dangerous, yet since 2006 only 750,000 fixed penalty notices have been issued to drivers for this reason.
IAM chief executive Simon Best called for tougher penalties to be handed out to protect other road users.
“The maximum sentence available to the courts is 14 years, so there is still scope for an even stronger road safety message that drivers who kill whilst distracted on their phones will be caught and jailed for a long time,” he said.
“The lesson here is obvious: never use your phone while driving. Whether you have a hands-free kit or use loudspeaker, it doesn’t matter. Using your phone in any capacity reduces your attention from the task at hand – driving.”