A public information request from 45 police forces across the UK has revealed that since the government announced stricter laws coming into force in March last year, just over 30,000 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) for mobile phone use at the wheel were handed out in comparison to the 45,000 from the previous year.
What seems to be the most worrying aspect of this public information request is that while penalty notices have decreased, this would indicate that mobile phone use at the wheel has gone down because drivers are more worried about getting caught.
However anecdotal information suggests that the cause of the decrease is more likely to be because there are fewer police on Britain’s roads and that mobile phone use in cars is still happening as much as ever and that the lack of police on the roads to catch people out is why the figures have decreased.
The new fixed penalty notice
The new Fixed Penalty Notice for being caught using a mobile phone while driving has doubled from £100 to £200 and the number of points added to your license from 3 points to 6 points. On the surface, it appears from the number of fines issued that the increased fine and the number of points on a license has drastically reduced the number of people using a mobile phone at the wheel.
Drivers who receive 12 points on their license in three years, or six points for the first two years of driving, face having their license revoked. As reapplying for a license and passing both tests is costly, the risk of using a mobile phone should deter many who are at risk of an immediate driving ban.
During the year over 500 novice drivers had their license revoked for using a mobile phone behind the wheel. And as part of a national crackdown in the last week of January this year, a further 2000 people were found on their phones while driving, of which 74% were male.
Police resources stretched
In March 2017, when the new regulations were introduced, the government saw more than 8,500 drivers caught as traffic police increased a crackdown on mobile phone use. In December 2017, around 1,400 drivers were caught as the police focused their attention more on drink driving, which is seen as equally as dangerous and a leading cause of accidents. However, the fact that mobile phone detection fell in December indicates that police are already stretched to capacity and cannot focus on tackling drink-driving and mobile phone use at the same time.
Statistics falling but mobile use isn’t
Road Safety Minister Jesse Norman MP said “The penalties for holding and using a mobile phone while driving have proven to be a strong deterrent, and more and more people are aware of just how dangerous this is. But some motorists are still not only putting their own lives at risk, but the lives of others. Everyone has a role to play to encourage drivers to put their phone away and not use it while at the wheel.”
While it is encouraging to see the statistics fall, it is also not good to see that there are still many people using their phone while driving. When driving, safety should always come first and should never be comprised. All it takes is one second for your eyes to flit down to your phone for something horrific to happen. As Jesse Norman says above, everyone needs to play a part in stopping drivers from using their phone behind the wheel.
Even stricter consequences
Some experts are calling for even stricter consequences that would act as a “shock tactic” to get drivers to stop using mobile phones in cars for good, the same as when you are caught drink driving you receive an instant driving ban.
Driver distraction from a mobile phone has shown to be as dangerous as drink driving, the logic is that if it can have the same impact as a drunk driver why don’t the police tackle it in exactly the same way?
Do you think the new laws have helped? Should the government make laws to catch and punish mobile phone use even stricter? Let us know in the comments below?
Make the laws even stricter – Crush the car or similar – they could be on or texting on their phone and be aiming at ME !!
Allow other members of the public to send the police force dashcam footage – if there is a chance of conviction, identification and clear use, then it should be allowed to stand up in court
CRUSH THE PHONE
Using a hand held mobile phone whilst driving or as the law dictates being stationary with the engine running should be treated no differently to that of Drink or Drug Driving and the vehicle that they are driving also be impounded. This also to include those whose mobile phones are fixed to a carrier and use it without a Viable BlueTooth connection. A minimum 12month driving ban should also be imposed.
I never quite caught what the legal definition of “actively driving” is. I did say a positive statement that being on the carriageway (eg, at traffic lights), out of gear + handbrake was “driving”. Not sure about the engine being running, although either way its hard to see what could go wrong.
The case of being stuck in a traffic jam is more interesting. Is it safe (conviction wise) to use a phone in this case, or is it necessary to get out of the car first?
I’m hoping that engine off is sufficient, else theres also a window of opportunity to be fined for “driving” without a setbelt as you get out.
Riding a motorbike you can see them ahead of you in traffic. Wandering across the lanes, delays in pulling off when lights go green, never use indicators, pulling out into you without looking, sudden braking for no reason in flowing traffic, jumping red lights. Personal observation is that mobile phone in hand usage is epidemic in my local area. I wear a GoPro Hero5 and I record multiple incidents every journey, most of which have the potential to kill me.
It is time we had a separate UK force of traffic police funded from the fines of careless or errant drivers. Big fines like they have in Canada or New Zealand, not the puny fines we have here.
“Wandering across the lanes, delays in pulling off when lights go green, never use indicators, pulling out into you without looking, sudden braking for no reason in flowing traffic, jumping red lights.”
That’s without a mobile phone in County Durham.
…..a month ban might work. Mind, most banned drivers simply get back in because there are no police around!
It doesnt take long driving on any road not just motorways too know who is using a mobile phone weeving over the lane head down reading or texting it is about time that drivers started to be jailed for using mobile phones whilst driving it is worse than drinking and driving in my eyes drink driving you are trying to control the car and failing,using a mobile phone your not even paying attention to what is going on round you if this is the answer then so be it jail it must be for everyone
although the fine and punishment is harsher now and people will think twice, lets take a reality check on this. There are x amount of miles in the uk. There are x amount of cars covering these roads. Think of these cars and the miles of roads and then lets look at the police on these roads. Police have a near virtual job covering every possible area.(bit like a needle in the haystack. Police being the needle. Haystack being the roads, cars and People driving using mobiles being the haystack) People will still use mobile phones as they know they will get away with it. What has to happen is film it. Either if you have a camera phone, dashcam etc capture the peraon using the phone record their reg no and upload it somewhere. Not only will the culprit be shamed. Police will be interested too.
They could do instant bans like New Zealand 14, 28, 56, 112, 224 days, then start on the years , the more they get caught the longer the ban and scrap the car they are driving even if its the bosses, Mind you I saw a young lady on the phone while riding a horse the other week I doubt scraping the horse would go down well.
Make a nice sandwich though…..! ONLY JOKING!!!!
Traffic policing is all about revenue nowadays – speed cameras, for instance. I agree that being head-down with a mobile phone whilst driving is potentially dangerous, but taken in the context of the milliions of vehicles on the roads and the mileage they cover, clobbering a few thousand for using their phone while at the wheel mostly demonstrates that it’s probably not an all-consuming monster problem. As for police having to prioritise drink-driving over phone usage at certain times of the year, then by all means, people with dashcams spotting others committing this sin should pass on their footage – it saves the police having to expend resources upon the needle-in-haystack exercise of finding such people.
Before anybody jumps on my remarks as trivialising a serious issue, I’m being tongue-in-cheek. I don’t speed, I don’t use a phone at the wheel and I don’t drink-drive, but I’m sure I’m not the only person who thinks that police go for soft targets in order to generate good statistics. 100mph on a dry motorway during the night when there’s little other traffic is not dangerous, but if motorplod sees you, you will still be banned, for instance. The absolute nature of the law often renders it asinine.
Make it an automatic ban and crush the vehicle. I don’t care if they winge about losing their jobs. If you don’t break the law you won’t have anything to worry about.
The Number of people using there phones has not dropped they are just getting crafty about doing it, well some are still very open and do not care.
I see it every day as I drive and sit high up.
I even see lorry drivers doing it these people should have there hgv licence revoked.
And I am sorry ladies but from my experience you are the worst offenders, and when I point out you are just as bad as a drink driver some of the foul mouth that I get thrown at me is disgusting, But I even see them doing it with there children in the back of the car,
Another thing that gets me is the passenger who sits there and lets there driver txt/talk while driving there just as bad as the offender.
There should be an instant ban put in place 3 months banned on the spot first offence 6 month banned on the spot second offence.
Third offence 2 year ban.
Fines and points only hurt for a short period but a ban would hit them hard.
All the Police need to do is sit on a busy road where the traffic builds up at traffic lights and they would catch hundreds in an hour using there phones
Penalties halved! Obviously they are runnung short of funds. How many bredths can I take per mile as I dont want a fine.
No ifs , no buts , same as drink driving, ban them for a year min. Letting them keep their licences means they will carry on using their phone while driving as they are above the law!!
Common round here to see lorry drivers using their phones whilst turning right angle bend one handed. White van drivers even more so. I wonder if they are forced into it by employers insisting they are available on the phone at all times and/or by unrealistic delivery time demands.
If glancing at your phone for a split second is dangerous then speed cameras that cause you look down at your speedometer are equally dangerous for the distractions they cause, never mind all the unecessary breaking that is instinctive in case of being over the speed limit that risks a collision with the car behind. The appologists for speed cameras should recognise they can be the cause of accidents.