Should mobile phones be confiscated for offenders behind the wheel?

Should mobile phones be confiscated for offenders behind the wheel?
According to a new survey from IAM RoadSmart, a third of advanced drivers support confiscation of mobile phones for drivers who are caught using them behind the wheel.

In fact, 34% of drivers in the UK would support the police confiscating a motorist’s mobile phone if offenders were caught using them while driving.

The survey of 2,437 IAM RoadSmart members carried out in February 2024 highlighted that a third of respondents support the idea of the police confiscating mobile phones for a short period of time.

However, just 27% believe that offender should pay to get their phone back by way of a fine.

This would be on top of the existing £200 fine and six points on a driving licence.

Furthermore, 7% support police confiscation of mobile phones but believe offenders should not pay to get their phone back.

Interestingly, 56% were ‘unconvinced’ that taking a mobile phone was appropriate.

Regarding the current state of the fines dished out to offenders behind the wheel who are using mobile phones, the survey had some interesting results.

In fact, 51% of those surveyed said the current punishment is correct – with 42% stating that the fines are too lenient.

Just 4% said the current penalty is too harsh on offenders caught by the police.

For those who believed the current penalties are ‘too lenient’, 34% believed that the most popular alternative would be an instant six-month driving ban and an unlimited fine.

However, 20% stated it should be a £1,000 fine and six points on a licence.

The survey also looked at the current state of the driving in the with, regarding the use of mobile devices.

Almost two-thirds (62%) of drivers believe that driver distraction such as talking and texting at the wheel has become a bigger problem than it was three-years ago.

In fact, 80% of drivers consider others’ illegal phone use as a threat to their own personal safety.

Those surveyed also looked at the priority of road policing, with 24% believing that mobile phone usage behind the wheel is now a top-three priority for road safety.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request from the charity discovered that 34,738 drivers were issued with a CU80 endorsement on their licence by the DVLA in 2022 for illegally using a handheld mobile phone while driving.

Following the release of the survey results, IAM RoadSmart Director of Policy and Standards Nicholas Lyes said: “Using a handheld mobile phone at the wheel is illegal and dangerous and many drivers want police forces to prioritise enforcement against these offenders. Moreover, the idea of confiscation of phones and paying an additional fine for its return has the backing of a surprisingly sizeable number of drivers.

“While we are never going to see a cop on every corner, camera technology is already being trialled in some parts of the country and could be rolled out nationally subject to Home Office type approval and the final trial findings.

“We have seen the tragic consequences of drivers using their phones at the wheel in high-profile cases such as that on the M66 where a young driver filmed himself travelling at catastrophic speeds resulting in the death of Frankie Jules-Hough and her unborn child.

“The Government should review the fine level alongside type-approving new camera technology to improve detection. These actions should be supported by a renewed high-profile education campaign highlighting the dangers of using a mobile phone while driving and consider the merits of offering more training courses. We also think social media companies have a responsibility to review policies and remove content as soon as possible when drivers post videos of themselves breaking the law.

“Ultimately, we need to break the cycle of phone addition once drivers get behind the wheel as it is a serious distraction that can have tragic results.”

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