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Fewer drivers caught by police for mobile phone use

The number of motorists caught by police for mobile phone use has fallen by half despite new research indicating that illegal mobile use by drivers is on the rise.

Driver using mobile phone

FOI data reveals the number of motorists caught using a mobile phone behind the wheel has fallen by almost half (47%) in four years

Freedom of Information figures obtained by the BBC show that there were 178,000 people stopped by police in the UK in 2011-12 for using their phones comparing to fewer than 95,000 in 2015-16 – a drop of just under 47%.

The BBC said the National Police Federation attributed the drop to fewer traffic officers.

The new figures come in light of recent research by the recent research by the RAC suggesting illegal mobile phone use is on the rise, with almost a third (31%) of motorists admitted to using a handheld phone behind the wheel compared with just 8% in 2014.

Earlier this month Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling said he pledged to double the points and fines for drivers using mobile phones behind the wheel from the first half of 2017.

However, motoring and road safety organisations continue to call for increased police enforcement.

Road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: “It is just as important that laws are seen to be enforced, and the decline in the numbers of dedicated road traffic police has only heightened the feeling that those who use a handheld phone while driving simply get away with it.”

Meanwhile Amanda Stretton – former racing driver and motoring editor of Confused.com – has called for an increase in awareness and education around the subject, saying: “This steep rise in mobile phone usage at the wheel could potentially be set to continue as more and more people embrace smart phone technology. Motorists’ attitudes to using mobile phones whilst driving appears to be relaxing, therefore, it is important now more than ever to spread awareness and educate motorists on the dangers of this.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.