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Tougher mobile phone penalties deter drivers

The number of drivers caught on their mobile phone fell 39% in 2017 following the 1 March introduction of tougher penalties.

 The number of drivers caught on their mobile phone dropped 39% in 2017.

The number of drivers caught on their mobile phone dropped 39% in 2017.

Figures obtained by driver savings site Confused.com through Freedom of Information requests to UK police forces show 30,470 fixed penalty notices (FPNs) were issued to drivers for using their mobile phone behind the wheel in 2017 compared to 49,694 in 2016.

The research also suggests the amount collected in fines has more than doubled (151%) in 2017. At least £1,207,300 was paid in fines by offenders in 2017(4), up from £481,500 in 2016, with the rise attributed to the increase in fines – which doubled to £200 – alongside a growing number of police declining to offer education courses.

In total, 157,847 points were dished out to offenders throughout last year, with 23,524 endorsements served six points.

In fact, almost three quarters (73%) of UK drivers say the harsher punishments have deterred them from using their mobile phone while driving, with more than a third (34%) saying they have stopped completely.

However, Confused.com research also found that more work is needed on driver education on mobile phones and the law, with one in 10 (11%) complaining the law is unclear.

More than one in four (27%) don’t know that entering a location in Google Maps, or tapping the phone screen (26%) while behind the wheel is illegal. And more than one in six (17%) don’t think making or answering a non-emergency call via the phone handset is illegal.

The Confused.com figures follows Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) data published by Brake, which showed the numbers receiving six penalty points for illegal phone use plummeted to 1,865 in April and just 1,387 in June. However, Brake and the RAC have previously disagreed whether the fall is due to the penalties or a lack of policing on offenders.

Paul Loughlin, a specialist motoring law solicitor at Stephensons commented: “The only legally compliant way to ‘use’ a mobile phone or other hand held device in a vehicle is to ensure that the vehicle is safely parked, secured and the engine is switched off.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 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.