According to a survey by RAC, the number of motorists using phones while driving is rising.
A new report by RAC has found that the illegal use of mobile phones behind the wheel is at “epidemic proportions”, and is now a major concern with regards to road safety.
From the survey of 1,714 motorists, a total of 31% said they used a handheld phone, compared with 8% in 2014.
The number of drivers who said they sent a message or posted on social media rose from 7% to 19%, while 14% said they had taken a photograph or video while driving.
A declining number of road policing officers combined with the growing obsession with smartphones has led to 7% of motorists having “no fear that they will get caught” for offences not detected by automatic cameras.
RAC believe that there has been a drop of 27% in full time dedicated roads policing officers in England and Wales – excluding London – between 2010 and 2015.
If drivers are caught using a handheld mobile whilst behind the wheel, they will get an automatic fixed penalty notice, a £100 fine, and three points on their license, with the possibility of being taken to court where fines of up to £1,000 could be issued, and the driver may lose their license.
In 2014, figures from the Department for Transport show that 492 accidents in Britain were partly caused by a driver impaired or distracted by their phone. A total of 21 of these accidents were fatal, and 84 were classed as serious.
The report comes a day after a driver was spared jail after killing a toddler in a supermarket while talking on the phone.
The government will publish the results of a consultation which proposed introducing tougher punishments for illegal mobile use by driver, with the minimum fine for non-HGV drivers expected to rise from £100 – £150, while penalty points are set to increase from three to four.
RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: “It is alarming to see that some drivers have clearly relaxed their attitudes to the risks associated with this behaviour but more worrying is the increase in the percentage of motorists who actually admit to using a handheld device when driving.
“The fact that drivers have little or no confidence that they will be caught when breaking these laws is a likely contributor to the problem and it is sadly the case that every day most road users see other drivers brazenly using their handheld phones when in control of a vehicle – a sight which should be a thing of the past.”
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