Tag: phones

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171,000 drivers fined for using a phone behind the wheel
30.12.2011 21:08:59

Mobile menaces: 171,000 drivers fined for using a phone behind the wheel as figure jumps by a third in a year

Record numbers of drivers have been caught using their mobile phones behind the wheel.

More than 171,000 were given a £60 fine and three penalty points over the past year – up more than a third on the previous 12 months.

This defiance displayed by motorists indicates the crackdown by police, launched nearly a decade ago, is failing.

The number of drivers putting themselves and innocent people at risk has soared each year since 2008, when just 115,900 were caught phoning or texting behind the wheel.

Experts yesterday blamed the rise on motorists developing a blasé attitude towards the law.

An emerging phenomenon of younger road users accessing social networking sites while driving is also cited.

The fresh figures emerged in a Freedom of Information request by motoring insurer Swiftcover.com to all 43 police forces in England and Wales.

Just 41 replied, meaning the final figure will be even higher.
Road safety organisations said the responses were evidence that existing penalties are not a sufficient deterrent.

Katie Shephard, director of Brake, said: ‘If 171,000 drivers have been caught, perhaps the penalties aren’t high enough.

‘There is no call important enough to risk your life or that or another road user. Our message to all drivers is switch off your mobile when behind the wheel.’

Research by the insurer also revealed almost 7million motorists have spoken on their mobiles while driving in the past year, suggesting less than 3 per cent have been caught.

It also identified the phenomenon of younger road users accessing social networking sites on smartphones while driving.

 

More than 1.5million people admitted doing so last year.

The total number of fixed penalty notices handed out in 2004 – the year after the ban came into effect – was 74,000. This rose to 166,800 by 2006.

Harsher measures were introduced the following year when the government doubled the fine to £60 and added the threat of penalty points.

Drivers also faced a £1,000 fine if convicted and jail if charged with more serious offences including dangerous driving.

This led to a brief dip in the number of motorists caught in 2008, but since then offences have soared.

Last year nearly 350 accidents – including 26 involving fatalities – were caused by drivers who were using a mobile phone.

A report by the Transport Research Laboratory found women aged 17 to 29 were most likely to use a hand-held mobile while driving. For men, it was the 30 to 59 group.

The study found that when drivers use one their reaction times are likely to be slower and they are less aware of what is going on around them.

In May, unemployed David Secker was caught using two mobiles behind the wheel.

The 34-year-old, of Sprowston, near Norwich, was talking on one while texting on the other when he was spotted on the 70mph A47 at Blofield.

He was convicted of using a mobile phone while driving and having no insurance.

Swiftcover.com’s chief claims officer Robin Reames said: ‘There’s simply no excuse.

‘Not only do you face fines, disqualification or even the possibility of a jail sentence, but anyone who crashes their vehicle while on the phone will be unable to make a claim with their insurer.’

The Association of Chief Police Officers said there are no new campaigns against drivers using phones, suggesting members of the public are simply becoming more blasé about the law.

Road Safety Minister Mike Penning said: ‘To make sure drivers take this seriously we are increasing the fine for the offence from £60 to between £80 and £100 next year.’



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Phone fines 'fail to deter drivers'
12.12.2011 09:05:05

Fiercer fines are failing to stop motorists using hand-held mobile phones while driving, figures show.

The number of offenders is now higher than the year just before harsher penalties were introduced, the statistics revealed.

There were at least 171,000 fixed penalty notices (FPN) for mobile phone offences in 2010/11, according to Freedom of Information requests made to England and Wales police forces by insurance company swiftcover.com.

With two of the 43 forces yet to respond, the 2010/11 figure was higher than the 166,800 total in 2006 - the year before the fine was doubled, with the threat of points going on to licences of offending drivers. The latest total was also more than double the figure of 74,000 in 2004.

Swiftcover reported that Thames Valley Police had had an FPN increase of 21% in 2010/11 compared with 2009/10. Other increases included Hampshire and the Yorkshire forces.

The results also showed that 56 drivers were fined for using mobiles while supervising learners in 2010/11 in London alone.

Swiftcover said its research also showed that 5% of drivers admitted using social networking sites while driving within the past year, with this figure rising to 12% for 18-34 year olds.

Robin Reames, chief claims officer at swiftcover.com, said: "It's clear that current measures to stop motorists using their phones while driving simply aren't working. An irresponsible but substantial minority of motorists are continuing to flout laws and endanger others, all for the sake of a phone call that could be taken at another time."

Road Safety Minister Mike Penning said: "Be in no doubt, if you use your phone at the wheel you face a fine and three penalty points - the police have made tackling this a priority. And to make sure drivers take this seriously we are increasing the fine for the offence from £60 to between £80 and £100 next year.

"Using a mobile while driving makes you four times more likely to have a crash so I would appeal to all drivers - don't risk your life or your licence for the sake of a phone call or a text."



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