A new report shows stiffer penalties aren't deterring illegal use of hand-held mobiles, despite tougher penalties, more drivers are using hand-held phones than before.
According to the BBC, the Transport Research Laboratory found that 2.8% – or one in 40 – drivers use phones illegally. That’s more than when they last conducted a survey, three years ago. Back then, penalties were less severe than today – but only 2.6% used phones to chat while on the move.
The TRL carried out its survey using 30 sites across London, where researchers checked 12,500 cars and taxis and 2500 vans. But the report’s authors say there is no reason not to think that the picture woujld be different across the rest of Britain.
Currently, drivers who use phone hand-held and on the move face a £60 fixed penalty and three points on their licences. Motors.co.uk’s own Motor Mouth poll, in which almost one in five drivers admitted chatting while driving, indicates that the problem may be even more widespread.
According to the TRL, phone-using drivers are four times more likely to crash – because their reaction times will be much slower. Stephen Ladyman, the former transport minister who introduced tougher penalties for illegal phone using two years ago, believes the law needs to be changed, perhaps so that community support officers or even traffic wardens could issue fines. At present, only the police can do this.