Tag: texting

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.’

Tags: crackdown | Motorists | texting | driving | phones | mobile | fined | drivers

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Safety Experts Slam Texting Toyota Yaris
14.09.2011 10:09:30

Safety Experts Slam Texting Toyota Yaris Image As time goes by, cars are equipped with an ever-widening range of technological gadgets.  Some of them, such as the interactive windscreen, are aimed at making driving safer.  Others, such as entertainment systems, are supposed to make life a little more fun while driving.  It was inevitable that sooner or later a conflict will arise between these two objectives.

In the case of TOYOTA this became apparent at the Frankfurt Motor Show, where the company exhibits a whole range of new models.  One of them is the new Toyota Yaris – which has now been slammed by safety experts because it is the first car in Britain to allow drivers to send text messages while driving.

Rivals have come up with similar solutions, but they only allow the driver to respond with a pre-programmed message, such as “I am driving now, will call back later.”  Toyota went a little bit further with the Yaris, letting drivers type and send text messages using the Touch & Go multimedia screen.  Safety experts’ main concerns are that this function also works when the car is on the move and that Toyota has plans to expand it to other models in their range.

As things stand now, the system is not illegal, since mobile phone laws only prohibit the use of hand-held phones.  Andrew Howard, the man in charge of road safety at the AA, fears that such a device would distract drivers.  He said: “People will feel pressured to reply to texts and not watch the road.”

Toyota’s response is that when you sign up for a car loan for this vehicle, you have to accept responsibility for your own actions.

Tags: texting | toyota | yaris | safety | Frankfurt motor show

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