The RAC implores police forces to 'turn up the dial' on drivers' handheld mobile phone use

The RAC implores police forces to 'turn up the dial' on drivers' handheld mobile phone use
On this date 17 years ago (27 February 2007), the punishment for using a handheld mobile phone while driving was increased to a £60 fixed penalty plus three points.

Before this date, the punishment was just a £30 fixed penalty, and although the fine has increased over the years, the latest RAC Report on Motoring data shows that 25% of drivers across all age groups admit to making or receiving voice calls illegally while driving – a figure which rises to 49% of those aged 17 to 24.

Further analysis showed that 30% of drivers under the age of 25 admit to video calling while driving, up from 17% in 2022.

In fact, illegal mobile phone use is now UK drivers’ fourth biggest overall motoring concern, behind the state of the roads, fuel prices and the poor standard of driving on the roads across the country.

In September 2016, RAC research found that illegal mobile phone use by drivers was at ‘epidemic proportions’, triggering government action and a consultation on raising the penalties further.

Following this, in March 2017, the fine was increased from £100 to £200 and came with an increased penalty of six points on a licence.

Last year, the law was changed again to cover any use of a handheld phone while driving.

RAC road safety spokesman Rod Dennis said: “It’s more than 20 years since it first became illegal to use a handheld phone while driving, and 17 years since the offence was first punishable through penalty points on drivers’ licences.

“Yet despite the penalties having since doubled to six penalty points and a £200 fine seven years ago, it’s clear far too many drivers are still prepared to put lives at risk by engaging in this dangerous practice.

“We suspect the main reason for this is the lack of enforcement which means there is little fear of being caught.

“As it’s impossible to have a police officer on every street corner, we urge more police forces to begin trialling camera-based technology that can automatically detect drivers breaking the law in this way.

“We know from our research that drivers are broadly supportive of cameras being used for this purpose.

“Without the dial being turned up on enforcement, there’s every chance we will never bring about the change needed to curb this behaviour. Ultimately, we have to make using a handheld phone at the wheel as socially unacceptable as drink-driving.”

Learn more about driving with mobile phones here.

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