DRIVERS UNAWARE OF NEW MOBILE PHONE PENALTIES

On Wednesday March 1st a new law doubling the penalty for mobile phone use behind the wheel comes into force to strengthen the clampdown on offending drivers. Yet new research from the no.1 car savings site Confused.com reveals half (50%) of drivers are unaware of the change that will double the fine from £100 to £200 and double the points on your licence from three to six.

Although nearly two thirds (63%) of drivers say they never use their mobile phones when driving, over a quarter (26%) worryingly admit to doing so on the rare occasion in order to text, make a call, change the song they are listening to or to interact with their sat navs. Worryingly, one in 20 (6%) Brits have had an accident or near miss on account of a road user using his or her phone while driving.

More than one in eight drivers (13%) think there are worse driving offences that authorities should focus on. However, three in five (60%) drivers welcome the new legislation, feeling that the previous penalty of a £100 fine and three points needed to be even more serious to deter road users from using their hand-held devices. In fact, over a third (34%) believe that the new measures - £200 fine and six points - still aren’t harsh enough; they argue drivers should face losing their licence if caught on their phone while behind the wheel. A further 29% believe police should have the power to confiscate your mobile if caught! Meanwhile, despite the new laws relating to drivers holding their phones, almost one fifth (17%) believe that speaking hands-free is just as dangerous.

Amanda Stretton, motoring editor of Confused.com, says:

“Hand held devices are distracting and take drivers’ hands from the wheel and their eyes off the road ahead.Drivers who do need to use their phone should pull over at a safe place and turn off their engine, as it is even an offence to use your phone when sitting behind the wheel of a car with its engine running.

“Many drivers will welcome the heavier fixed penalties coming into force which will hopefully be part of a long-term campaign to encourage safer, more conscientious driving behaviour in Britain. With costs of up to £200 at stake for using your phone - even for a brief moment - motorists really ought to take the rules on board. If caught using their phone while driving, motorists can also face increased premiums, with some insurers refusing to offer cover to those who have a conviction for such an offence."

All research cited was conducted via One Poll of 2000 UK adults with a drivers license between 21/02/2017-24/02/2017.