New research has revealed the shocking extent of motorists’ mobile phone usage behind the wheel.

The survey, carried out as part of the RAC’s Report on Motoring 2016, asked more than 1,700 UK drivers about their mobile phone usage, and found that a shockingly high number of motorists not only use their mobiles while driving, but think it is acceptable to do so.

Thirty-one per cent of those surveyed admitted to having made or received a call while driving in the last 12 months and 14 per cent said they had taken photos or videos while at the wheel of a moving vehicle. If these figures reflect the majority of UK motorists, then that equates to 11 million drivers participating in a phone call and five million drivers using their phone’s camera over the course of a year.

A further 26 per cent of drivers have checked texts, emails or social media while moving, 19 per cent of who physically wrote and sent correspondence themselves.

These figures dramatically increase in non-moving traffic, with almost 50 per cent of drivers making and receiving calls or checking their phone. Thirty-seven per cent said they had texted, emailed or posted on social media and more than 20 per cent admitted to taking photos or videos while stationary.

When asked why they felt it necessary to use their phones at the wheel, the motorists gave a variety of reasons. Twenty-three per cent claimed that it was an emergency, while 21 per cent said that they had ‘needed information for their journey’. Twelve per cent, however, admitted that it was force of habit, and eight per cent said it was because ‘everyone else does it’.

Most shockingly of all, seven per cent said they used their phones because they knew they could get away with it.?

Since December 2003, using a mobile phone at the wheel is punishable by three penalty points and a fine of anything from £30 to £1,000.

And if the punishment isn’t enough of a deterrent, then the accident statistics should be. Drivers using a handheld mobile phone have reaction times 30% slower than even those who exceed the drink-drive limit, the Transport Research Laboratory found.

RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: “There is clear evidence that the illegal use of handheld phones by drivers to talk, text, tweet, post, browse and even video call is, if anything, on the increase.

“Motorists are increasingly worried about the number of other drivers who appear to be hooked on using their smartphones while driving, presenting both a physical and mental distraction and making them a significant risk to other road users and pedestrians when their attention should be fully focused on the road.”

Jack Evans


After completing his university studies in English and Creative Writing in Cardiff, Jack is now a full time motoring writer at Blackball Media. His love of cars stems from his childhood years when he began to live and breathe all-things automotive.

September 15, 2016

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