UK motorists unswayed by mobile fines

The UK has some of the highest fines for using hand-held mobile phones in Europe – but even so many UK motorists remain undeterred with almost 12,000 drivers a year still being prosecuted for the offence, IAM RoadSmart has discovered.

A new survey from top German motoring organisation ADAC shows many European countries have relatively low financial punishments for using a hand-held phone while driving – Bulgaria, Iceland, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Austria, Poland, Switzerland, Slovakia, Hungary and Czech Republic all have fines of under €100. Germany fines up to €100, France €135 and Italy €160. At the equivalent of around €225, UK fines are only beaten by Holland (€230) and just pip Spain and Denmark at €200.

In spite of the possibility of a £200 fine and six driving licence points, figures published by the Ministry of Justice show the number of offenders convicted of ‘using or causing others to use a handheld mobile phone while driving’ stood at 11,961 for 2016 (the last year full statistics are currently available.

Despite this level of penalty, driving while using a handheld mobile phone in the UK continues with some addicted drivers refusing to accept the risk it causes to themselves and other road users. IAM RoadSmart’s own Safety Culture Survey showed that 90% of those surveyed felt the dangers caused by people accessing social media or email messages while driving was a significant threat to their personal safety and they felt it was an even bigger threat than drink-driving.

Sarah Sillars, IAM RoadSmart chief executive officer, said, ‘Motorists need to make the connection that using a hand-held phone is a major distraction to the task of driving. There is no such thing as multi-tasking when it comes to driving – when you drive, there is nothing else you should be doing.

‘Handheld mobile phone use is a top concern for British drivers and heavy fines and extra points are a key part of the government strategy to combat it. Clearly this is not enough and unless selfish drivers fear that they will be caught, far too many will continue to flout the law.

‘What we want to see is a combination of effective penalties, more personal and corporate responsibility and vehicle, smartphone and social media companies working together to generate hi-tech solutions to the distractions caused by their technology.

‘No call is worth risking your own or someone else’s life for. Remember, make the glove box the phone box and put temptation out of reach.’