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New rules expected to come in, in the first half of 2017 will see drivers receive six points on their licence and face a £200 fine. Furthermore, newly qualified drivers could be made to retake their test if they are caught.
NFDA Trusted Dealers is supporting the national media campaign to deter drivers from using their mobile phones behind the wheel after new research revealed that nearly five million drivers could be using their phones while driving every day.
Currently, drivers who text behind the wheel receive three penalty points on their licence and a £100 fine, but campaigners are arguing that this simply is not enough to deter motorists from the temptation of using their mobile phones.
Under new rules which will apply to England, Scotland and Wales, more experienced drivers could go to court if they offend twice as well as face possible fines of up to £1000 and a minimum 6 month driving ban. The penalties will be accompanied by a high-profile government Think! campaign.
A survey of 1000 drivers conducted by NFDA Trusted Dealers into driver’s attitudes to using devices while driving found that almost half (48%) of people admitted to using their phone while on the road. The survey also revealed that more than one third (39%) have used their smartphones to check social media and change songs while driving, with a further 71 per cent making calls behind the wheel.
Despite these statistics, 12% of drivers surveyed said they don’t think using a phone while driving is dangerous, despite the latest Government figures showing more than 180,000 people were killed or injured by road accidents in the UK in 2015 alone.
Trusted Dealers Managing Director, Neil Addley, said: “Despite the fact that most drivers know that using their phone behind the wheel is dangerous, the latest results show that in a world where we are constantly online, many people feel under pressure to be continually available, even when driving. This mind set is putting safe drivers and other road users at risk.
“Trusted Dealers is supporting the call for more investment to be put into policing illegal mobile phone use as our results show that only two per cent of drivers received points on their licence, despite one in ten using their phones illegally on a daily basis.
“We are committed to keeping all motorists safe on the roads, especially new drivers, and with more people on the roads each year, we have developed a dedicated section on our site which is filled with tips and advice from buying your first car, to road safety advice for new drivers.”
To find out how different types of phone use can affect concentration, in 2010 Which? conducted a study on motorists who used their phone to chat and text while
driving. Researchers found that reaction times for drivers who were speaking when sober on a hands-free kit or handheld mobile phone, was higher than those drivers who got behind the wheel after drinking.
Further tests revealed that the reaction time of motorists who attempted to write a text message while driving was two seconds. In all but one of the tests, texting diminished drivers’ abilities more than drinking or any other type of phone use tested, with drivers getting closer to the car in front by an average of 12 metres.
Darrell Martin, whose brother was killed by a driver on his phone, said the penalties did not go far enough.
Mr Martin told BBC Radio 5 Live: “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.”
A lorry driver who killed a woman and her three children while using his mobile phone in August this year was jailed for 10 years in October. Tomasz Kroker was scrolling through music on his mobile when he hit a stationary car. The car was shunted underneath the back of a heavy goods vehicle and crushed to a third of its size.
The family of the victims issued a statement to say they felt that Kroker’s punishment was simply not harsh enough and that anyone who is caught using their mobile phone “is guilty of dangerous driving” and should be punished accordingly.