Hundreds of drivers have been stopped in a police sting targeting mobile phone users at the wheel, revealing some shocking statistics for Britain’s roads.
During the week-long campaign, which was based in Hampshire and the Isle of White, a total of 285 drivers were stopped by police, proving a record high over seven days.
Offenders were issued with penalties when stopped by police, and gave some surprising responses when questioned about their actions.
Many drivers blamed boredom for using their mobile phones whilst at the wheel, with games, texts and phone calls the most obvious distraction whilst driving. However, others also claimed that they were using their device for video purposes, for example filming a driver who had just cut them up or was driving erratically.
However, regardless of the reasons behind the use of their devices, drivers were served penalties, and given a refresher on why it’s important not to use a smartphone whilst at the wheel.
Last year during the same campaign, only 178 drivers were stopped, showing an obvious increase in offenders.
According to research, mobile phone use is one of the biggest distractions which can affect a driver, with text messages and phone calls most likely to cause a collision.
Also, if using a smartphone, you’re four times more likely to be involved in an accident, with your reaction time slowed by approximately 50%.
Several reports claim that using a phone whilst at the wheel can be more dangerous than driving under the influence, and has been proven by the increase in total UK road deaths over the past few years.
Driving whilst using a mobile phone currently results in three points being added to your license with a £100 fixed penalty also included.
However, calls have been made to double the points tally to six per offence in an effort to deter drivers from picking up their phones.
The law also states that if the engine is started, and the car isn’t in motion, that it’s still a punishable offence. This means that even if you are pulled to the side of the road or at a red light, you can still be penalized for using your smartphone.
The only exceptions to the law involve the use of two way radios, which are commonly used by emergency services and taxi drivers, and if you’re calling the emergency services (999 or 112) and it’s unsafe to stop.
Hands-free use of your smartphone is not illegal however, mainly because it would be extremely hard for police to enforce.
Authorities recommend turning your phone off whilst driving and leaving the handset out of reach to avoid any risk of you using the handset. Of course, common sense should dictate that whilst you can have your phone on and in reach, as long as you keep your concentration on the road and ignore it, you shouldn’t be at any extra risk of a collision
Written by Luke Hatfield