6,000 drivers use phone despite fines
Nearly 6,000 drivers were caught using their mobile phones while driving in the month after the Government increased penalties for the offence.
The figures equate to 200 drivers per day in the 28 days from 1 March, when the Department for Transport (DFT) doubled the penalties to a £200 fine and six penalty points. Additionally, motorists caught using their phone within two years of getting their licence can now lose it entirely.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said at the time that using a phone at the wheel is “as inexcusable as drinkdriving”.
The Press Association used a Freedom of Information request to obtain the statistics, which show police punished 5,977 drivers in March. Just over 2,000 incidents took place in London.
Drivers reported to the police included a man using his phone while driving a 7.5-tonne lorry around a roundabout in Bournemouth, and another driving a minibus with 10 children on board.
Road-safety campaigners said that the figures show the tougher laws aren’t curbing this behaviour. The charity Brake, which wants the £200 fine to be “significantly increased”, told the BBC: “Driver distraction is a growing menace and it’s worrying that drivers don’t seem to be getting the message”.
Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, added: “Driving is a safety-critical activity that requires our full attention. Hands need to be on the wheel and eyes looking out of the windscreen, not down at the phone screen”.