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UK Drivers Still Using Mobiles Despite Harsher Penalties – Why?

RAC survey shows two-thirds of drivers are still using their mobile phones when driving unaware of the new penalties.

The breakdown association took a survey of 2,000 UK drivers that found just 36 percent of motorists could correctly state that the current penalties are six points and a £200 fine for using a handheld mobile while driving. A quarter (26 percent) were not aware the penalties became more severe in March 2017. For new drivers, the penalties are even tougher.  If you are caught using your mobile whilst driving in the first two-years after passing your test, it’s all over.  You immediately lose your licence and face a retest.,

Of those who persist in using a handheld phone an overwhelming majority (87 percent) said it is something they just do on their own and not when others are in the car. Seventy-eight percent said they continue to do it despite fearing they will get caught by a police officer, while nearly a quarter (23 percent) think they can safely drive and use a handheld phone at the same time. One in 10 drivers (11 percent) say they believe the road safety risks of combining driving with something as distracting as using a handheld phone are ‘overstated’.

RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: ‘Despite extensive publicity and awareness-raising campaigns run at both a local and national level, it is remarkable that such a high proportion of drivers seemingly remain unaware of the current penalties for using a handheld phone at the wheel.

‘The law around handheld phone use by drivers, and the penalties associated with ignoring it, could not be clearer. Yet every year there are dozens of fatal crashes caused by motorists who have allowed themselves to be distracted by their phone – and our own data suggests millions of drivers are continuing to put themselves and others at risk in this way.’

Chief constable Anthony Bangham, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for roads policing, added: ‘The law surrounding mobile phone use behind the wheel has been widely publicised, and the increase in penalties last year is representative of how prevalent this dangerous practice is. However, notwithstanding the legal repercussions, the main thing we want drivers to do is arrive safely at their destinations.

‘When you are driving, the priority should be the safety of yourself, your passengers, and your fellow road users. Whatever is happening on your mobile phone can always wait.’

In France a recent ruling by the country’s courts means that use of mobiles is completely banned unless you are in a designated parking spot with the engine turned off.  Simply pulling off to the side of the road won’t cut it with the French.  The move has been made in the hope that it will reduce the number of road deaths in the country and should also mean, fewer parked cars obstructing the roadside. Get caught and it is an instant £119 fine.

Spain is very similar.  Not only is it prohibited to speak on a mobile phone even with a Bluetooth earpiece and headset, but it is also forbidden when on any road to pick up a mobile phone even if waiting at a traffic light.  If the engine is running when on a road it is considered driving by the Road Safely Act.  Get caught and you will face a 200 euro fine and 3 points.

Why, can we not wait until we are home or at least, out of the car before answering our phone or looking at our social media?  How on earth did we manage pre 1973 when that first call was made by Martin Cooper of Motorola on April 4th…..I wonder if he realised back then what this world would look like in 2018 when the mobile has become an extension of hour hand for many.  We cannot walk out the house without it.

Just think about it.  When the 50plus amongst us were kids, our parents played things like I Spy or the number plate game or spot the yellow car with us.  Now do the kids even look up from their phones to talk to you or even look out the window to see where they are going.  I certainly got so used to the view from one place to another, when I started to drive, I navigated myself around the area without a map.  I was observant of life.

Sadly, I see adults and children, even my own granddaughter, with a lack of interest in the world around them as they are concerned about their phones.  If its not on the phone, it does not exist. Let’s get talking again, sharing the time in a car when we have a captive audience to reconnect with each other, and looking out the window at what’s going on out there. Lift your head up from the phone whether you are driving or a passenger……

Driving should be safe at all times, that means our attention on the road, not our phone.  The messages, the calls, the social media updates will still be there when we arrive, safely. Phones have become essential in our everyday life, on the tube stations, in the shops, at petrol stations, the cinema and on and on it goes.  But, are they so important, you are willing to risk your life and perhaps the lives of those in the car with you?  So, while in the car……put it down!!

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About Yvonne Roberts

Yvonne has spent the last 30 years in field sales, working up and down the UK. Deciding it was time retire the poor car before it died, she now is a prolific writer and teacher as well as writing and performing ceremonies as a civil celebrant. This means blogging comes off her pen as natural as breathing! Working with Connect-it gives her a platform to let her natural and alternative view on life to be expressed; as well as an understanding of the telecoms world.

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