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GB Government to introduce tougher penalties for mobile phone use whilst driving

20 September 2016

In a recently published report 41% of motorists told the RAC that people using phones while driving is in their top 4 concerns - despite 49% admitting they'd done it themselves.

When the RAC surveyed drivers in 2014, only 8% admitted to making calls at the wheel. This year the result was 36%.

Texting has increased too, from 7% in 2014 to 19% in 2016.

Drink driving has declined steadily since road safety adverts started circling, and is now seen as very serious. Phone use, on the other hand, is something people do own up to and this could be a factor contributing to the rise.

The Transport Research Laboratory has found that drivers using their phones have reactions 30% slower than drivers who are over the legal alcohol limit. Therefore drivers caught using a handheld mobile phone will get six points on their licence and a £200 fine, the Government says.

Under new rules, which will apply to England, Scotland and Wales, more experienced drivers caught breaking the rules twice could also be fined up to £1,000 and face at least a six-month driving ban.

Meanwhile, newly qualified drivers could be made to retake their test the first time they are caught.

The penalties, which will increase from three penalty points and a £100 fine, are expected to be introduced in the first half of 2017.

According to STATS19, 2,995 (or 3%) of collisions involving injuries (fatal, serious and slight) in 2013 in GB involved some form of distraction from within the vehicle (STATS19, Department for Transport). This is likely to be an underrepresentation due to the difficulties in coding distraction as a contributory factor after the event.

The most recent official observational count of mobile phone use whilst driving found that 1.6% of drivers in England and Scotland were observed using a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving (DfT, 2015). Drivers were more likely to be holding the phone in their hand (1.1%) rather than holding it to their ear (0.5%). A higher proportion of drivers were observed using a hand-held mobile phone when stationary (2.3%) than in moving traffic (1.6%).

An observational study conducted by Sullman (2012) on UK public roads found 14.4% of drivers to be involved in some form of concurrent distraction. Talking to passenger(s) was the most common distraction (7.4%), followed by mobile phone use (2.2%), smoking (2.2%) and eating (1.1%).




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