Despite a number of high profile cases and a recent police and legal crackdown on using your mobile phone while driving in the UK, only 50% of UK drivers surveyed by the Department for Transport (DfT) think all mobile phone use behind the wheel is dangerous.
The DfT’s British social attitudes survey conducted in 2016 has revealed that less people than ever before are ‘attune to the dangers of mobile phone use’ than in 2009. Back in March 2017, a figure was released that detailed that mobile phone usage while driving in the UK had doubled, with around 200 drivers a day being caught using their phone in the four weeks after the new mobile phone usage legislation was passed.
This legislation increased the potential punishment that could be issued to those who are caught, doubling the penalty to a £200 fine and six points on their licence. This amount of points now determines that someone who has only had their licence for two years or less, faces an instant ban as they have reached the maximum point threshold, and as a result will need to pay for a new provisional licence and then pay for and sit their practical and theory tests before driving again.
However, despite the increase in fines and points, the DfT survey has revealed that 71% of drivers still believe that the laws aren’t being properly enforced, and RAC research has also revealed that 40% of drivers say that the thought of causing an accident isn’t enough to make them stop using their phone at the wheel.
The same RAC survey revealed that the most likely incident involving a driver using their phone behind the wheel is ‘boredom’ caused by sitting in traffic, which remains ruled as illegal. But even after extensive campaigning by charities such as Brake, Think! and IAM Roadsmart, why are people still insisting on using their phones while driving?
Pete Williams from the RAC puts it down to the fact that handheld phone use is just ingrained into some driver’s heads, and the task to change their mindset will be massive. He says; “No single action will achieve this and we need to educate a combination of education so drivers understand the dangers, encourage them to give the habit up, and combine this with rigorous enforcement of the law, so those breaking the law can expect to get caught.”