Despite tough new penalties introduced two years ago, many drivers are still using their phones while at the wheel – with serious consequences for their licences and lives.
A new survey from Swinton Insurance reveals that 16% of motorists admit their mobile phones remain a huge distraction for them while driving. Of this group:
• Half said that they used their phone while driving to access their mobile’s sat nav apps
• A third said they answered calls or texts while another third said they accessed music apps
• Just under a quarter stated that they used their mobile while driving because they were too impatient to leave it until their journey was over.
Bye bye licence
These figures are startling especially when you consider the new law introduced in 2017, which saw the penalties for using a phone at the wheel made far tougher.
If caught on your mobile, you now face £200 fine (instead of the previous £100) and six penalty points on your licence (instead of three). For newly qualified drivers then, it could see you stripped of your licence – and having to take the test again.
Our latest research shows that despite legal and safety concerns, the pull for motorists to be active on mobile devices is still overwhelming. [While] the majority of drivers claim to be using their phones less since the legislative changes came in to effect two years ago, most still aren’t aware of the fixed penalty notice charge and aren’t deterred by it.”
– Mike McGrail, Swinton Insurance.
There is some good news however – both the Swinton Insurance survey and official government figures reveal that the new law has had a positive impact on some drivers. According to Swinton, over half of respondents stated that they used their phones less while driving than they did in 2017.
Also, 59% stated that the six penalty point risk was acting as a deterrent while others confessed that the fear of having an accident was the biggest deterrent for avoiding mobile use while behind the wheel.
Government figures also reveal a slight decrease in offending rates – “1.1% of drivers were observed using a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving on weekdays in Great Britain,” states the ‘Seatbelt and Mobile Phone Use Surveys: Great Britain, 2017’ report. This is compared to 1.6% back in 2014.
Remember the code!
Introduced in March, 2017, anyone caught using a mobile phone while driving will now get six points and a £200 fine. The same rules apply when you are in traffic or stopped at traffic lights. The only time you can use your mobile in the driver’s seat is if:
• you need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop
• are safely parked at the side of the road with the handbrake on and the engine off.