Only half say mobile phone usage at the wheel is dangerous

On mobile phone whilst driving

Research from the Department of Transport (DfT) reveals only 50% of people in the UK agreed that the use of mobile phones whilst driving, including hands free, was dangerous.

This years’ British social attitudes survey: 2016 report shows that of this 50%, 22% agreed strongly that all use of mobiles whilst driving was dangerous with a further 28% agreeing. Only 26% disagreed that using mobile phones whilst driving was dangerous.

However, since 2009 overall public opinion on the danger of using mobile phones behind the wheel has dropped from 61% to current levels of 50%.

Mixed opinion: banning all phone usage at the wheel

When it comes to banning mobile phones whilst driving, including hands free, people have mixed views. Around 40% agreed that such use of mobile phones should be banned but 36% believed they shouldn't be.

Again, this has changed from 2009 when over half (53%) agreed mobile devices should be banned and only 30% believed they shouldn't be.

The real risks of using mobile phones at the wheel

The Department for Transport reported that using a mobile phone while driving was a contributory cause in 17 fatal road accidents in 2014 and 22 fatal road accidents in 2015 - although these figures are believed to be higher.

For those seriously injured, these figures rise to 99 in 2015 from 84 in 2014.

With 30% of UK drivers previously confessing to using their mobile phone whilst driving and 16% confessing to sending a text or posting on social media, it is clear that drivers are not appreciating the potential dangers of using their phones at the wheel.

UK drivers face tougher penalties for using mobile phones

Earlier this year, the UK government doubled the penalties for drivers caught using a mobile phone behind the wheel which came into force in Scotland on March 1st 2017.

Previously drivers would face a fine of £100 and 3 penalty points. Now, they face a £200 fine and 6 penalty points.

Higher penalties enough to deter motorists from using mobiles?

After the increased penalties were brought into force on 1st March 2017, early statistics indicated that motorists were not being deterred from using their mobile phones whilst driving.

It was found that more than 200 UK motorists a day were caught using their mobile phone, amounting to 6,000 drivers in the first 4 weeks after the higher penalties were introduced.

It is clear that many motorists are not recognising the real dangers of using mobile phones when they are driving. A momentary lapse in attention can cause a life changing road traffic accident.