RAC report finds a 31% rise in handheld mobile phone use while driving and calls on the Government to act
15 September 2016

The number of drivers using handheld mobile phones behind the wheel is rising, according to a new report.

In its annual Report on Motoring, released today, the RAC found that the number of people admitting to using a phone while driving has risen from 8% in 2014 to 31%. The report also found an increase in texting, emailing and social media use while in the driver’s seat, up from 9% in 2014 to 19% today. A further 14% of those surveyed admitted taking photos or videoing while driving.

The RAC has called on the Government to launch an awareness campaign to highlight the dangers of using a handheld mobile while driving, as well as issuing tougher penalties for those flouting the law. Currently, those caught face a minimum £100 fine and three points on their licence, although this is set to increase to a minimum £150 fine and four penalty points, six for HGV drivers.

RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said the organisation believes better enforcement is needed, and called for more police on the roads.

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“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.

“With compliance on some traffic laws including the use of handheld mobile phones seemingly getting worse, the RAC calls for an end to cuts to dedicated roads policing and urges the Government and Chief Constables to give greater priority to enforcement of road traffic laws,” he said.

The National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) said the report highlighted the role police forces have in educating drivers and taking action against those who commit such offences. NPCC lead for roads policing, Chief Constable Suzette Davenport said: “We share the RAC’s concerns about the level of mobile phone use by drivers, particularly as phones are becoming 'smarter'. Our approach is a blend of education and enforcement.

“We run national operations and forces take action locally. We will continue to stress the dangerous consequences, and arrest offenders, but we also need people to take responsibility for their behaviour behind the wheel and exert some social pressure on family and friends who take this risk.”

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A Government spokesperson said: “We have some of the safest roads in the world and it is totally unacceptable for motorists to endanger lives by using handheld mobile phones while driving.

“Offenders involved in fatal road accidents while using a mobile phone already face serious offences, such as causing death by dangerous driving, which can carry a substantial prison term. We have also proposed tougher penalties for mobile phone use to act as a deterrent and ensure it is not tolerated in society.”

Phill Tromans

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Comments
8

15 September 2016
Like most responsible drivers, I'm always irked to see the blatant use of hand-held mobiles by so many other drivers. What I still don't understand, however, is why you commonly see this happening in expensive cars that you know have standard Bluetooth capability. Do the drivers know how to link their phones for hands-free use, or is it that they can't be bothered to switch the feature on?

I know even hands-free use reduces driver concentration levels, but at least it's legal and you are better able to control the car. Can anyone explain this behaviour?

15 September 2016
TheDriver wrote:

Like most responsible drivers, I'm always irked to see the blatant use of hand-held mobiles by so many other drivers. What I still don't understand, however, is why you commonly see this happening in expensive cars that you know have standard Bluetooth capability. Do the drivers know how to link their phones for hands-free use, or is it that they can't be bothered to switch the feature on?

I know even hands-free use reduces driver concentration levels, but at least it's legal and you are better able to control the car. Can anyone explain this behaviour?

Its something that has me baffled too, today saw two Range Rovers and one Audi Q7 among the handheld users.. is it even possible to buy these cars without handsfree? Many seem willing to pay 10 grand for a meaningless personalised plate yet not a tenner for a Bluetooth earpiece? - there must be people reading this that do this behaviour.. are any brave enough to explain why? do they not know a friendly 12 year old who could pair the phone for them?

15 September 2016

TheDriver,
On Radio 5 Live this morning I was shocked to hear a motoring law expert state that you could still face charges if you cause an accident while using a hands-free phone connected via Bluetooth. He didn't go into detail, but perhaps driving without due care and attention could still apply if it can be proved that you were being distracted by the call.

15 September 2016
Makes you wonder if this is still a grey area of the law! I've not heard of any convictions, but if they happen it would surely set a precedent that will call into question whether a complete ban on drivers conversing even hands-free is needed. If there were passengers in the vehicle, of course, prosecutors would need to prove conclusively that the driver was listening to, and distracted by, an active phone conversation.

TBC

15 September 2016
Whilst I appreciate that not all new cars come with Bluetooth, as TheDriver mentioned, a large proportion of them do. So, you have to ask the question, why aren't they using hands free? Certainly all smart phones have such a capability. Admittedly, some Bluetooth systems are a pain in the a*** to connect to, but you have to wonder whether it's down to the drivers intelligence, or lack of it, or just laziness (my phone automatically connects in the morning when I get in the car) in not bothering to set it up? It might be interesting to run a survey to find out........

db

15 September 2016
There should be a new medical term connectionittis an affliction where people have to answer their phone as their life depends on it! I manage 30 people and often get calls whilst driving and depending on what I am doing, junction, lane change, roundabout etc I will resist and call them back at a better time. My last 3 cars have had ever improving connectivity and I have never had any connection issues. My wife has a car with no blue tooth and just doesn't answer if any one calls when driving or pulls over. I witnessed a brand new bmw 5 series (must have Bluetooth as standard) in front of me the other night driving erratically and changing lanes at last moment cutting up other cars and imagine my surprise as I turned to the driver at the lights to find that they were on their phone. Its not just driving these days that is dangerous walk along any pavement and peoples connectionittis dictates that they need to look at their phone text or god knows what and walk into you. And the cure is ..... common sense !

16 September 2016
I look down on a busy road from my house, and I can see into the cars passing. It's not just people using their phones going by, it's people eating, drinking, reading, and not using seat belts, not bothering to belt up their kids etc. It worries me that these 'drivers' seem to think they can get away with this. Of course there are no police about. So...if they do get caught maybe we should crush their cars and ban them from the roads for 10 years. There is NO excuse.

16 September 2016
Anyone caught using their phone while driving should lose their licence for 6 months and be fined one month worth of their wages! True there are not enough Police about to catch these people, but there are plenty of speed cameras/traffic cameras about that can be enhanced to capture them in the act.
Red Devil

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