A police crackdown on motorists using mobile phones behind the wheel has seen the number of offences drop by nearly 50 per cent, police figures have revealed.

New penalties for using a mobile phone when driving came into force on March 1 last year. Motorists can now be fined up to £200 for using a phone, while receiving up to six points on their licence – double the previous penalty. This means that being caught just twice with a phone at the wheel could result in drivers losing their licence.

For new drivers – those that passed their test less than two years ago – being caught just once could lose them their licence. Government figures also show that 500 novice drivers have had their licences revoked since the law changed.

While figures show that a large number of motorists are still dangerously using a phone behind the wheel, it is a noticeable cut.

According to a Freedom of Information request made by the AA, around 39,000 fixed penalty notices (FPNs) were issued by police between March and December last year. This compares with 74,000 drivers being caught during the same period in 2016. This is a 47 per cent decline in mobile phone use at the wheel.

March 2017 saw the greatest number of FPNs being handed out after many forces cracked down on law-breaking drivers as soon as the new penalties came into action.

AA president Edmund King said: “It will take time for a wholesale change in attitudes to really take effect.

“While some drivers have got the message and changed their behaviour, many drivers still believe they won’t get caught.”

To coincide with the first anniversary since the new penalties were introduced, Think! Is highlighting the chances of drivers getting caught, and raising awareness of the dangers of using a phone at the wheel with adverts that will appear across radio, social media and on physical billboards.

Ted Welford


March 1, 2018