So it is illegal but we have all done it, or at least been tempted to. That lure of your message ping, the familiar ring of your iPhone: ‘what if it’s urgent’, ‘I’m stopped at lights and it’ll only take a second to check’. We all know that it’s incredibly stupid and that we should not be doing it, but still that temptation is great.
Well now the stakes just got higher (as if the consequences were not fatal enough) as the government cracks down with spot fines and penalty points doubling.
The RAC have reported that illegal mobile phone use is increasing, yet for the past 10 years the number of prosecutions have halved since 2010, with 17,586 motorists charged in 2015 compared with 35,255 in 2010. The number of convictions has also halved as have fines imposed by the courts. It seems that the mounting concern about a lack of prosecutions and convictions, has only served to strengthen the message to the public not to take the law too seriously.
Motorists caught using their mobile phones while driving will automatically receive six points on their licence instead of the current three and on-the-spot fines will be doubled from £100 to £200. New drivers could now face immediate disqualification if six points are applied to their licence for driving while using a mobile phone.
Is it a generational problem as the Department for Transport (DfT) and RAC believes, with the under 25’s not knowing a life before mobiles? Or are older users just as bad with the blasé attitude on the road? Is it a more ingrained attitudinal problem that needs to be addressed with more than just police action?
The Dft certainly believes so and that more needs to be done. They are currently working on a “hard-hitting Think! Campaign” with new sanctions expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
It remains to be seen whether these tougher sanctions and the campaigning will have any effect on this dangerous activity. Regardless of where the blame sits and with who, everyone knows that the consequences can be, and often are life-changing. We therefore we all have our part to play in ensuring that your phone stays off and out of reach whilst driving.
The minister for transport Chris Grayling, said use of mobiles at the wheel was as socially unacceptable as drink or drug-driving.
“We all have a part to play in ensuring our family and friends do not use their phones while driving,” said Grayling, promising to announce “a tougher new penalty regime shortly”.