Figures released after the latest crackdown on people using their mobile phones behind the wheel saw almost 8,000 people caught in one week alone. The week-long campaign ran in November and saw over 40 fines an hour being issued by Officers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as 68 Court Summonses, hundreds of verbal warnings and 117 other distraction offences (such as eating behind the wheel).
Despite it being illegal to use a handheld phone whilst driving, thousands of people do it each week without giving a thought to the dangers involved. Many campaigns have been raised over the years to tackle the problem and now people are calling on all drivers to make the use of mobile phones socially unacceptable, alike to that of drink driving.
Matt Butler, a traffic inspector for Dorset Police has commented, “Although you may get away with it [using your mobile phone] a few times, sooner or later you are going to have a crash and that crash is going to hurt someone really badly.” He continued, “So it is not just about ‘I’ve been naughty, I’ve been caught doing something’, it’s about the end effect and that is what we need people to remember.”
The Government are trying to combat the problem and are introducing much tougher penalties for drivers caught using their mobile phones, including doubling fines and the number of points issued. Under the new rules, drivers will receive 6 points and a £200 fine. It is hoped these stricter rules will act as a deterrent and make people think twice before picking up the phone.
However, some people do not feel this will be a deterrent enough and believe penalties should be put in line with those imposed on drink driving. Mr Martin, who lost his brother in an accident when a van driver using a mobile phone collided with him whilst he was cycling commented, “For the majority of people it will just be another expensive [bit] of motoring, it’s not really a deterrent is it? Six points isn’t the same as the immediate ban with drink driving.”
Startlingly, a survey by the RAC found that 31% of drivers admitted to using a handheld phone whilst driving in 2015. This is a rise from just 8% in 2014. They believe this is due to a drop in road police officers monitoring roads, so people are not concerned about getting caught.
We’re all aware of the dangers involved in using a mobile phone and becoming distracted whilst driving. Just a few seconds distraction can mean the difference between life and death, and is that really a risk worth taking?
Never pick up your phone when you’re driving. You should always make sure your full attention is on the road. Whatever the message or call, it can wait until you are safely stopped.
Freeclaim Solicitors are specialist road accident compensation solicitors with over 30 years’ experience helping clients who have been injured in road traffic accident. We can help you, or a loved one, to receive the compensation you deserve. If you have been involved in an accident caused by another driver using a mobile phone, contact us today for free, confidential advice. Our road accident claims helpline is open 24 hours a day on 0800 612 7340.