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Do you use your mobile phone while driving...it could cost you more than your licence

View profile for Andy Munden
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We all know the hazards of using our mobile phones when we’re driving, and it’s easy to be tempted, but do we consider the implications before we do?  Is it one of those situations where we think, “I won’t get caught” or “It won’t happen to me”?  Figures from the Department for Transport have shown that 492 road traffic accidents were caused in Britain in 2014 because the driver was impaired or distracted by their phone.  Unfortunately, 21 of these were fatal, and 84 classed as serious.

This news follows an RAC survey which has shown that 31% of motorists, 11 million people, have used a handheld phone when behind the wheel, a shocking increase from 8% in 2014.  The results also show the following concerning details:

  • The number of drivers who sent a message or posted on social media rose from 7% to 19% since 2014,
  • 14% said they had taken a photograph or video while driving,
  • 14% believe it’s acceptable to take a quick call on a handheld mobile, a figure that’s doubled since 2014,
  • 78% of drivers think it’s unacceptable to take a call while driving, a percentage which is down from 84% in 2014.

What is the law around using mobile phones whilst driving?

It is illegal to use your handheld mobile phone whilst driving a car or riding a motorcycle.  If caught, you can get an automatic fixed penalty notice, three points and a £100 fine, but if taken to Court you could be fined £1,000 and have your licence removed. 

The government is due to publish the results of a consultation which proposes tougher punishments for illegal mobile use by drivers, with the fine rising from £100 to £150 and points given to rise from three to four.  HGV drivers will face tougher punishments.

Why are people still using mobile phones whilst driving when they know the risks?

The RAC survey showed that 7% of those who admitted using a phone did so because they knew they could get away with it.  There has been a decrease in the number of full time dedicated road traffic offices in the last five years, meaning that drivers do not fear being caught.

When looking at other reasons, 23% of people claimed it was an emergency, 21% said they needed information for their journey and shockingly, 12% said it was habit.

What to do with your mobile phone when driving

If you think you could be tempted to look at your phone while driving, the best thing to do is to lock it away in your glove compartment or put it in your bag.  This way you won’t be distracted by any messages or calls coming through. If you do need to use your phone for an emergency, pull over when it’s safe to do so. 

When releasing their figures the RAC commented that the use of handheld mobiles was “the biggest road safety concern among motorists today,” and here at Warner Goodman LLP we couldn’t agree more.  Andy Munden, Personal Injury Partner for the Hampshire based law firm, commented, “Getting behind the wheel and using your mobile phone should have the same stigma and legal consequences as drink driving; both actions leave the driver not in control of the vehicle with reduced reaction times.  If you are considering using your mobile if a text or call comes through, or you’re stuck in traffic and want to pass the time, then take a minute and think of the consequences.  Ask yourself the question, can what you’re doing wait until you can pull over or until you arrive at your destination; is it urgent enough to risk yours and another persons life.”

Andy concludes, “Unfortunately we see too often the consequences of road traffic accidents, some of which are caused by drivers using their mobile phones.  We are corporate donors of road safety charity, Brake, and with Road Safety Awareness Week approaching in a couple of months, we’re keen to promote safety behind the wheel and reduce the number of accidents coming through our doors every day.”

For more information about the law surrounding mobile use when driving, you can visit the government website here.  If you’d like to be involved in the upcoming Road Safety Week, Brake’s website has all the details.  Alternatively, you can find out more about Warner Goodman’s Injury team here

ENDS

This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.