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One in 10 drivers think mobile phone risks are ‘overstated’

More visible police enforcement is needed to force ‘addicted’ mobile phone users to make the break.

One in 10 drivers believe the road safety risks of using a handheld phone are ‘overstated’

One in 10 drivers believe the road safety risks of using a handheld phone are ‘overstated’

That’s according to a new study by the RAC which found that a large number of drivers remain unaware of the penalties for using a handheld phone behind the wheel – while many are still wedded to their phones.

The research of 2,000 UK drivers saw more than one in 10 (11%) say they believe the road safety risks of combining driving with something as distracting as using a handheld phone are ‘overstated’ while nearly a quarter (23%) think they can safely drive and use a handheld phone at the same time. Only 31% of respondents said they’d made the decision to stop using a handheld phone at the wheel.

And more than a year on from the introduction of tougher penalties for handheld phone use at the wheel, nearly two-thirds of drivers (64%) remain unaware of the current penalties of six points and a £200 fine. A quarter (26%) were not aware the penalties became more severe in March 2017.

A total of 41% of respondents believe more visible enforcement of the law is the key to getting people to change their behaviour while more than a fifth (22%) are in favour of stronger penalties. Meanwhile 18% of drivers advocate the blocking of mobile phone signals within cars altogether and one in 10 (10%) think more public awareness campaigns would make persistent drivers finally ‘kick the habit’.

RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: “The law around handheld phone use by drivers, and the penalties associated with ignoring it, could not be clearer. Yet every year there are dozens of fatal crashes caused by motorists who have allowed themselves to be distracted by their phone – and our own data suggests millions of drivers are continuing to put themselves and others at risk in this way.

“While it is reassuring that a good number of motorists have decided to make a positive choice and stop doing it, there is still much more to be done to make everyone else change their behaviour.”

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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.