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Charity Brake is also campaigning for the penalty for calling or texting behind the wheel to be increased from £100 to a much higher £500-£1000 after a Freedom of Information request showed more than 500,000 people had points on their licence for using a phone or being distracted.
The figures were released today to mark the start of National Road Safety Week, and Brake’s latest campaign is backed by the Association of Chief Police and is being run exactly ten years since the initial mobile phone ban was introduced.
In an age when most people expect to be constantly connected to the internet, people are finding it more and more difficult to switch off from their mobile phone devices even for a minute which is why Brake is campaigning for drivers to turn off their phones altogether and even put them inside the boot for the duration of their journey.
Brake has directed their campaign towards evidence which suggests 98 per cent of motorists are unable to divide their time without it affecting their driving ability. Activities such as using a mobile phone, eating, drinking and smoking were all shown to increase the risk of a crash, Brake claimed.
Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of Brake, said: “We’re living in an age when being constantly connected is the norm.
“More and more of us have smartphones, and find it hard to switch off, even for a minute.
“While there are enormous benefits to this new technology, it’s also posing dangerous temptations to drivers to divert their concentration away from the critical task at hand, often putting our most vulnerable road users in danger.
“Many people who wouldn’t dream of drink-driving are succumbing to using their phone and other distractions while driving, oblivious that the effect can be similar and the consequences just as horrific.”
The government has responded by saying it has increased fines for using a phone while driving and that it is in the process of looking into how to improve road safety for younger motorists.
A spokesman said: “The government is determined that police have the powers they need to tackle any form of dangerous driving, including anyone using a mobile phone at the wheel.
“That is why this year the fixed penalty for this offence was increased to £100 and carries three penalty points.
“Police can stop and arrest any driver if they believe they are not in charge of their vehicle, and this includes if the driver is using a hands-free mobile device.
“There are no plans to change the law around the use of hands-free devices but all penalties are kept under review to ensure they are appropriate.”