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Motorists continue to flout mobile phone laws

19 January 2009

More than a third of motorists (36%) still admit to using a handheld mobile phone while driving their car, with a quarter saying they’ve done so in the past week, according to a What Car? survey

However, the true figure could be much higher, as 93% of motorists say they’ve seen someone else using a mobile phone at the wheel in the past seven days.

In spite of tougher penalties being introduced in 2007, which include the threat of jail if a driver is prosecuted for dangerous driving, there has been no drop in the number of motorists admitting to using a handheld mobile over the past year. Last year’s survey also showed that 36% admit to using their phone while driving. Only a slight drop of 6% has been recorded since 2005.

Steve Fowler, What Car? editor, said: “The message is obviously not getting through - if you use a handheld mobile phone while driving, you may end up killing yourself or others.

”Research has shown that using a mobile phone at the wheel could be more dangerous than drink driving. Yet it seems you don’t have to travel far to see someone who’s oblivious to the dangers - they’re all too easy to spot by their bad driving habits.”

Comment:

Unsurprisingly, mobile phones are popular for those who drive for work, but this means that this group of drivers are potentially at greater risk than others. Even hands free mobile phones are distracting and therefore potentially dangerous.

It is therefore an important part of an employer's management of work related road risk, to ensure a robust company policy, that is clear to all. FirstGroup, for instance, have banned all use of mobile phones.

Moir Lockhead, chief executive of FirstGroup, said: “Our philosophy at First is simple: If you cannot do it safely, don’t do it. When we reviewed the evidence produced by TRL we decided to implement this new policy and to put a company-wide communications campaign in place to inform our staff."

For more information see RoadSafe magazine or TRL's website.