52,000 Drivers Are Still Ignoring Mobile Law

Twelve years after the law banned mobile phone use while driving, UK police are still issuing over 52,000 fixed penalty notices (FPNs) a year for the offence.

Driving whilst using a hand-held mobile phone was made illegal on 1st December 2003. However, many UK motorists still choose to ignore the legislation, incurring three penalty points on their licence and a fine of £100, as well as the prospect of higher fines and disqualification from driving if their case goes to court.

The latest statistics for England and Wales issued by the Home Office do show a steady decline in the number of FPNs issued by police for mobile phone offences, with the latest number in 2013 almost half what it was in 2008, and less than a third of the 2006 figures, when offences were at their peak. But the figure of 52,400 for 2013 still shows an alarming disregard for the law.

Mobile phone offences

Phoning or texting?

A survey for the Department for Transport issued in February 2015 showed that not all drivers observed using a mobile phone were making calls. More than twice as many drivers were observed with the phone in their hand, presumably texting or using the internet, compared to those observed with the phone to their ear.

Texting while driving is thought to be more distracting and dangerous than being drunk or high on drugs, according to research carried out for the RAC Foundation in 2008. At that time, 48% of UK drivers in the age group 18 – 24 admitted to texting while driving.

Reaction times in a driving simulator recorded a 35% deterioration in reaction times (compared with 12% for alcohol at the legal limit and 21% when under the influence of cannabis). Steering control was 91% worse than alcohol and 35% worse under the influence of cannabis.

Is “hands-free” phone use any safer?

There is increasing concern that even drivers using hands-free or Bluetooth kits experience unsafe levels of distraction. Research published on the British Medical Journal claims that the risk of an accident increases four-fold when speaking on the phone, whether on a hands-free or hand-held phone.

The UK road safety charity Brake is calling for an outright ban on hands-free phones at the wheel, saying, “It’s the distraction of the phone conversation itself that causes the danger. The rise of in-built car ‘infotainment’ systems presents an added source of distraction and the government needs to act to regulate them.

“We also need a much higher penalty for phone use at the wheel – from the current £100 to at least £500-1,000 – so drivers take it seriously”.

Which UK areas have the worst record for mobile phone offences?

In England and Wales, London, Essex and Cambridgeshire had the highest number of fixed penalty notices issued in 2013, followed by Dyfed-Powys and then Cheshire and Wiltshire. Full details of the 20 worst offending areas are shown below.

Police Force Area Endorseable FPNs
Metropolitan Police 20,084
Essex 2,464
Cambridgeshire 2,431
Dyfed-Powys 1,833
Cheshire 1,409
Wiltshire 1,364
North Wales 1,350
Thames Valley 1,270
West Yorkshire 1,205
West Midlands 1,175
Northumbria 1,162
South Wales 1,099
Kent 1,068
Avon & Somerset 1,006
North Yorkshire 964
Cumbria 834
Norfolk 799
Cleveland 787
Sussex 702
Greater Manchester 648

Who are the worst offenders?

A poll showed that 49% of 17 to 24 year-olds made work calls while driving compared to 17% across all age groups. Younger drivers making calls to family members and friends made up 35% and 21% respectively, compared with 23% and 15% overall.

If you have penalty points for a mobile phone offence, Insure Your Motor can help you find competitive car insurance.

Click for an online quote or speak to our expert team on 0800 557 1329.

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