Government research, carried out by the Transport Research Laboratory, found that the number of motorists using a mobile phone behind the wheel has increased since 2009. Most people are texting or checking social media. There has been a 14 per cent increase in drivers seen using their phones behind the wheel, despite measures to cut offending.
Aiming to reduce the number of deaths and injuries on the roads, a new Department for Transport consultation proposes increasing the fixed penalty notice (FPN) level from £100 to £150 for all drivers. In addition, there would be an increase in penalty points from three to four for non-HGV drivers. Those that hold a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) licence and commit the offence while driving an HGV would see an increase from three to six points.
With a range of hands-free kits, mobile phone holders and Bluetooth headsets readily available at affordable prices, make sure you avoid that four-point penalty.
According to DfT figures, the number of people using their mobile phone while driving fell after laws were introduced in 2004, but increased again until 2007, when the offence was given a £60 fine and three penalty points. However, although visual checks suggest more people are offending, the number of motorists actually being caught dropped from 35,255 in 2010 to 19,560 in 2013, possibly due to fewer traffic officers on patrol.
The research revealed that men were most likely to be seen on their phone while driving, with van drivers the biggest culprits.
Age also seems to factor into driving habits, with under-30s more than twice as likely to use their phone behind the wheel than any other age group.