Findings from the 2016 RAC Report on Motoring showing that handheld mobile phone use while driving is now at epidemic proportions have led to an announcement that penalties for the offence are to be doubled by the UK Government.
Research carried out for the report found that an estimated 11 million motorists admitted to making or receiving a call while driving in the last 12 months and a shocking five million saying they have taken photos or videos while at the wheel of a moving vehicle. The findings – released on Thursday 15 September – sparked two national newspaper campaigns which were followed by a Department for Transport announcement that the fine for the offence would be doubled to £200 and the points increased from three to six.
RAC road safety spokesman 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.
“Understanding the consequences of breaking the law is also paramount, so we welcome the announcement that the increased penalties will be accompanied by a high profile Government THINK! campaign highlighting the dangers of handheld mobile phone use at the wheel.
“While the new penalties are not due to come into force until the first half of 2017 we hope we will see an immediate change in driver behaviour and an end to anyone using a handheld mobile phone while driving. It is time for a cultural shift to make the use of a handheld mobile phone as socially unacceptable as drink driving.”