Despite the fact that stronger penalties have been brought in for those caught using their mobile phones while behind the wheel of a car, it would seem that some motorists still aren’t being deterred from breaking this particular law.
New research from Co-op Insurance has just revealed that 16 per cent of drivers in the UK admit that they’ve used their phones while driving since the law was changed back in March. As of the 1st, those caught using their phones at the wheel could be given six penalty points and a £200 fine.
But it seems as though these penalties aren’t harsh enough to put people off using their phones while driving. The study found that of those who say they have used their phones since the law change, 71 per cent made phone calls and 27 per cent sent texts to friends and family – with 16 per cent saying they didn’t know the law had been changed.
And it’s not just texting and making phone calls either that have people using their gadgets at the wheel. Some 17 per cent say they Snapchat while driving and 14 per cent say they scroll through Instagram.
Head of products James Hillon said: “We’ve welcomed the penalty change as we believe that anything that may lead to safer roads and thus communities in the UK can only be a good thing.
“However it’s still concerning that since the law change on 1st March, a sixth of drivers have used their phones whilst driving. Using a mobile phone whilst driving can seriously impact a motorist’s ability to drive safely, so we’d strongly advise drivers to lock their phones away in glove compartments when driving.”
If you do still use a mobile phone at the wheel of your car, be aware that police around the UK are now starting to use unmarked lorries and other vehicles to patrol major roads in the country so they can catch people using their phones while driving.
Officers have been out and about in HGVs, as the elevated position in the cabin of such trucks makes it much easier for them to spot offenders. Unmarked police motorbikes are also being deployed to help tackle this problem – and these are surely to prove effective in the fight against mobile phone use while driving since they can weave in and out of standing traffic to see who’s on their phone.
Because of this crackdown, it’s vital you remember that it is illegal to use phones while driving or riding a motorbike, unless you have hands-free access like voice command, a dashboard holder or a Bluetooth headset. And remember that this law will still apply even if you’re stopped at traffic lights, queuing in traffic or supervising a learner driver.
If you’re using a hands-free kit, make sure you’re always in full control of your vehicle as the police can still stop you if they think you’re not in control because you’re distracted. This could result in a prosecution.
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