Fewer drivers caught using phones following tougher penalties

Fewer drivers caught using phones following tougher penalties
Figures which show a 10% reduction in the number of drivers caught using their mobiles at the wheel “offer hope” that the message is getting through.

In the three months immediately after the penalty for illegal handheld phone use was doubled in March – to £200 and six penalty points – the number of those caught fell by 1,700 compared to the three months before.

The RAC, which compiled the figures after making Freedom of Information (FOI) requests answered by 38 police forces, welcomed the reduction but warned many culprits are still going unpunished.

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In total, 14,160 drivers between March and May – down from 15,861 between December and February – were caught for the offence.

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

The numbers emerge months after RAC research uncovered a hard core of millions who continue to ignore mobile law in spite of the increased penalties.

The City of London police force area saw the most pronounced percentage fall with a 67% reduction in cases over the period. Only 41 drivers were stopped after the new penalties came in, down from 124.

Since March, the RAC has been encouraging drivers to Be Phone Smart and stop using their devices when behind the wheel.

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Mr Williams pointed to the fact that the number of dedicated roads policing officers in the UK fell by more than a quarter between 2010 and 2015 – suggesting these latest figures are unfortunately just the tip of the iceberg.

He added: “Following the introduction of tougher penalties, we know police forces are running regular campaigns to catch offenders – so one way of reading these figures is to say that this activity, in parts of the country, is beginning to yield results.

“But the flipside to this is the possibility that enforcement levels are still much lower than they need to be to stamp out this illegal activity.”

Copyright Press Association 2017. Motoring News articles do not reflect the RAC's views unless clearly stated.