Mobile use 'main killer on roads'

Mobile use 'main killer on roads'

Motoring experts say collisions caused by drivers making calls, texting and using social media on hand-held mobile phones will be the main cause of death on the road by next year.

Use of mobile phones at the wheel has become such a problem that Transport Minister Patrick McLoughlin wants to double the number of penalty points people receive when they are caught, from three to six.

Recent research from the RAC shows an alarming level of ignorance about the law relating to the use of hand-held phones; with 12% not knowing texting and driving is illegal and 21% not realising it is illegal to check Facebook and Twitter while driving.

In fact, there is greater awareness about the illegality of the new offences of tailgating or middle lane hogging on the motorway than texting whilst stopped in traffic, with a nevertheless disturbing 31% and 42% respectively, not knowing they have been outlawed.

Department for Transport figures reveal 17 people died in the 378 accidents caused by mobile phone use in 2012, but the true number could be as high as 213 fatalities - as many cases go down as in-car distractions instead.

According to Simon Marsh, the managing director of vehicle journey recorder firm SmartWitness, many accidents are being wrongly recorded, suggesting mobile phone use is already close to being the largest single factor in road deaths.

Mr Marsh is urging the Government to do more to inform motorists that they risk ruining innocent people's lives by using their handset at the wheel.

The road safety charity Brake is backing Mr McLoughlin's double penalty points proposal, but its deputy chief executive, Julie Townsend, says fixed penalties should also rise by 100% from £500 to £1,000.

The RAC Report on Motoring 2014 reveals many motorists in 21st century Britain think there is little risk of being caught breaking the law at the wheel for anything other than speeding or running a red light: offences typically enforced via cameras.

Two in five drivers (40%) believe anyone committing common offences such as texting at the wheel of either a moving or stationary vehicle, aggressive driving, tailgating, middle lane hogging or undertaking on the motorway would more than likely get away with it.

Copyright Press Association 2014