Hard core of millions continue to ignore mobile law

Hard core of millions continue to ignore mobile law
Only 16% of drivers have stopped using their handheld phone altogether since a law change in March saw penalties double.

The RAC has identified "a hard core of persistent offenders" totalling over nine million drivers, who think they can flout the law day in day out without facing consequences.

Research gleaned from the RAC's Report on Motoring 2017 suggests a "dire situation" still exists, with mobile use at the wheel remaining the UK's single biggest motoring concern.

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The Report on Motoring 2017 questioned 1,727 drivers – a year after the previous Report uncovered a mobile phone epidemic on the UK's roads.

Still, around 11%, or 4.4 million drivers, are not even aware that the penalty for being caught using a handheld phone behind the wheel increased earlier this year to £200 and six penalty points.

Despite the changes, a seemingly persistent 9.2 million drivers ignore the law on a regular basis.

Even though the number making or receiving calls has dropped to 23% – from 31% last year – a total of 15% openly admit the law change has made little or no difference to how they view the offence.

Among these habitual users, four in 10 are aged between 25 and 44, while 57.3% are men.

Around 20.6 million drivers – or 58% of those aware of the changes – say they have never used their phone behind the wheel.

RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: "It is clear we have a hard core of persistent offenders who believe they can get away with it by continuing to flout the law every day and we fear this may get worse with fewer dedicated roads policing officers."

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Findings from the Report also make it clear that many drivers think it is acceptable to use a mobile while stationary in traffic, with 40% of respondents admitting to doing so.

Compared to the overall 28.7% reduction in illegal phone use while driving, the downturn in stationary use was just 20.1%.

A total of 16% of respondents – up from 13% – named illegal phone use as their top concern of 2017, with 40% naming it in their top four.

Pete Williams continued: "Drivers need to take more responsibility when they get behind the steering wheel and think seriously about whether choosing to pick up a handheld mobile phone is really worth the risk.

"We had hoped concern about drivers talking or texting at the wheel on their handheld phone would decline as a result of the Government taking the decision to increase penalties with fewer drivers breaking the law but this has not been the case.

"What may well have happened is that awareness of the offence has risen among law-abiding drivers who have become increasingly incensed by the number of drivers they still see flouting the rules. For drivers who don’t do it there is nothing more frustrating than seeing others blatantly using a handheld phone at the wheel on a daily basis and putting other road users at serious risk of injury or even death."


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