Mobile phone use at the wheel drops by 11 per cent

Tougher penalties for driving using a mobile are thought to be the reason for a drop in the number of motorists using the devices behind the wheel.

Law changes earlier in the year saw the penalties for driving while using a mobile phone double. Motorists caught using the devices are now fined £200, as well as getting six points on their licence.

Between March and May 2017, 14,160 drivers were caught for the offence, down from 15,861 recorded in the previous three months – December 2016 to February 2017. This represents an 11 per cent decline.

The research was carried out following Freedom of Investigation requests made by the RAC.

Several forces recorded significant drops in the number of motorists stopped for driving while illegally using a phone, with City of London Police seeing a drop of 66.9 per cent and Durham Constabulary stopping 51 per cent fewer motorists for the offence.

Despite most police forces stopping less drivers for illegally using their phones, several forces did see large increases. Kent Police saw a rise of over 42 per cent, while Gwent Police stopped 41 per cent more motorists.

RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: “It is still much too early to tell if the stricter penalties that were introduced in the spring are changing drivers’ behaviour, but these figures perhaps give hope that at least some are starting to get the message that driving and using a handheld phone to talk, text or tweet don’t mix.

“Regardless of the reasons for the fall in offenders being caught, it is clear there is still an enormous job to be done to show to drivers that persist in using a handheld phone that it is both against the law and extremely dangerous.”

Ted Welford


December 1, 2017

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