The latest research produced for the RAC Report on Motoring 2016 show that UK drivers are flouting the laws relating to mobile phone use. More than just ignoring the laws, the RAC believe people are actively acting against them, with motorists showing a relaxed attitude for all kinds of mobile phone use.
The research shows that 31% of all motorists questioned admitted using a handheld mobile phone to make or take a call in the last 12 months. It also shows that worrying the number of people who think it is OK to take a quick handheld call has doubled. 14% of people believe this is an acceptable practice now, while in 2014 the figure was just 7%. The percentage of people who think using social media when stationary is acceptable is also up. 20% of those questioned in 2016 believe this is an acceptable action, compared to 14% in 2014.
It is necessarily the case that what people think is the same as the way they act but from this survey, it seems to be the case. In 2016 19% of drivers questioned admitted to sending texts, emails or social media posts when driving, compared to 7% in 2014.
Why use your Mobile Phone when Driving?
It is illegal to use your mobile phone when driving. The RAC’s research shows why people think it is acceptable though. 23% stated it was an emergency and 21% asserted it was because they needed information for their journey. At the more worrying end of the spectrum 12% admitted it was just habit, while 7% said it was because they knew they could get away with it.
Videos and Driving
It is an astonishing fact that drivers are taking photos while driving. 14% admitted they had taken photos while driving and a further 22% admitted they had done so in stationary traffic. This percentage shoots up in younger driver groups and it is a truly worrying statistic.
Will Harsher Penalties Drive Change?
Handheld mobile phone use while driving has been illegal since December 2003. The number of offences has not significantly fallen in this time. This is despite the risk of fines and up to three penalty points under current legislation. Lack of enforcement is one of the RAC’s main reasons behind why it hasn’t been a success. However, the government has also looked into a change to the punitive measures.
Earlier this year the government held a consultation on the fines and penalties for handheld mobile phone use. In fact, shortly after the RAC report came out the government announced the results of their consultation. The penalty for using a handheld mobile phone while driving is changing. Anyone driving and using their handheld mobile will now receive an immediate six penalty points and a £200 fine. This means anyone caught twice faces a driving ban.
Speaking on behalf of the RAC their road safety spokesperson Pete Williams said:
“The Government’s swift action to the findings in the RAC Report on Motoring shows they understand just how dangerous it can be to use a handheld mobile phone at the wheel. Increasing the fine from £100 to £200 and doubling the penalty points from three to six will help to deter people from doing it in the first place. However, it is just as important that laws are seen to be enforced, and the decline in the numbers of dedicated road traffic police has only heightened the feeling that those who use a handheld phone while driving simply get away with it.”
The RAC wants the government to invest more in tackling the problem and it is easy to see why. Driving and dialling is illegal for a reason, it can result in serious accidents and even fatalities. With this new change in legislation coming into effect in early 2017 we should soon see its effects.