RAC: Mobile phone driving situation “still remains dire” despite doubled penalties

25th September 2017

Photo: PeopleImages/iStock

Using a mobile phone behind the wheel has been illegal for well over a decade now but a hard core of motorists still flout the law habitually, even after fines were doubled in March.

The government revised the penalty for illegal use of a mobile phone whilst driving to six points and a £200 fine after research from the RAC found that the problem had reached ‘epidemic proportions’.

Now, the RAC’s Report on Motoring 2017, which is based on the view of 1,727 motorists, shows an estimated 9.2 million drivers continue to break this law on a regular basis.

The number of motorists who say they make or receive calls illegally at the wheel has fallen by a quarter – from 31 per cent in 2016 to 23 per cent in 2017 – which is great news.

However, 15 per cent of the survey sample said the introduction of the tougher penalties had failed to make them rethink their phone use. This was split between eight per cent who said they had not changed their habit at all, while seven per cent said it had not really made a difference.

One in ten drivers are still unaware of the increased fines, the research suggests, but for the rest of the motoring community that were clued up, six in ten of them said they had never used their phone when driving.

A further 16 per cent said they had completely stopped using their handheld phone altogether when driving since the law change.

RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said even though these figures hint at improvements, the situation still remains dire.

“Despite the law change and some high profile police enforcement campaigns, we are in a situation where overall roads policing officer numbers are down on 2016 by a massive 30 per cent since 2007,” he commented.

Molly Benton, brand manager at Fuel Card Services, added: “There is clearly a significant number of persistent offenders who believe they can get away with it and with fewer dedicated roads policing officers on the roads, we fear the situation may worsen.”