For many young drivers the lure of using your phone whilst you are driving is overwhelming. A recent study found that a third of young drivers admitted to taking a selfie behind the wheel. Search for #DrivingSelfies on Instagram and you will see a frightening reality that this actually exists. Over 27,000 people have posted a photo with that very hashtag, put other motorists lives at risk in the process.
Using your mobile phone whilst driving has been illegal since December 2003. Whether you are caught at traffic lights or driving down the motorway, the punishment remains the same. You can expect a minimum of a £100 fine and three points on your licence.
Since the introduction of the phone ban, there have been an increasing number of changes made to reflect the increase in offences:
- 2003 – The law against mobile phone use in cars was introduced. A simple £30 fine was implemented.
- 2007 – The monetary fine increased from £30 to £60 with three penalty points.
- 2013 – Reports highlighted that phone usage in continued to be a big problem for motorists. The fine was increased to £100. Recently the government have stated that this additional penalty has made little difference and is not a long-term solution.
Figures released in 2013 highlighted that in 22% of fatal road accidents, mobile phones were a factor. MP Robert Goodwill commented on these findings and explained: “the problem isn’t just drivers making phone calls, it is their use of phone to text or use the internet”.
A further study in 2014 found that the majority of offenders had their phone in their hand rather than to their ear, according to government data. This supports the finding that phones are used for other uses apart from making phone calls whilst driving. Males were found to be the worst offenders in comparison to females.
The data also accounted for the types of vehicles which had been stopped for the offence throughout 2014. Van drivers were found to be the biggest culprits, whilst lorry drivers were also guilty of a high number of offences.
Social media is continuing to play an increasing role in the overwhelming lure of checking our phones whilst driving. Snapchat has caused particular concern with the introduction of the app’s ‘miles per hour’ feature. This feature allows the user to work out how fast they are travelling in real-time. Whilst it seems like a harmless idea it has the potential to put lives at risk.
According to a study by Confused.com, 1 in 10 young drivers confessed that they had been caught by police for using their mobile phone whilst driving. It was found that 57% of offenders admitted that they would continue to commit the same offence.
The introduction of penalty points in 2007 caused the biggest decline in offences over 12 years, which does suggest that this punishment is taking steady effect. Whilst a monetary fine is having little difference, the potential shift to six penalty points, rather than three, seems highly likely in the near future.