Tougher penalties look set to be on the way for drivers who persist in using their mobile phone behind the wheel. Larger fines and the addition of more points to culprits’ licences are among the measures being considered.
The latest crackdown on those using a phone behind the wheel comes amid suggestions that police confiscate phones from all drivers involved in crashes to see whether they were using their phone shortly before the collision – in an attempt to cut deaths caused by distracted drivers.
The advice for police to check phones at the roadside came from Gloucestershire Chief Constable Suzette Davenport, who is responsible for road policing at the Association of Chief Police Officers. Davenport says that she is determined to cut accidents caused by phone use, according to the Daily Mail. She has asked officers to check drivers’ phones at the site of all accidents – not just those where people were killed or seriously injured.
Estimates suggest that more than 500 people are killed or seriously injured every year because of drivers texting or browsing the internet while behind the wheel. Research from the Transport Research Laboratory has found that mobile phone use can cut drivers’ reaction time by over three times more than alcohol for someone on the drink drive limit.
Professor Stephen Glaister from the RAC Foundation told the Mail: “More systematic checking of drivers’ phone records after a crash would send out a message that police are taking this matter seriously and people who flout the law will be caught”.
President of the AA, Edmund King, added that drivers are unaware that their mobile phone records provide an “incriminating track” of their actions. King said: “The current deterrent just isn’t working. Many drivers seem addicted to their phones and just can’t resist looking at a text or tweet at the wheel. We need a concerted effort to crack this addiction with harsher penalties linked to an information and enforcement campaign.”