Support grows for tougher penalties around phone usage

A new survey by IAM RoadSmart has revealed that a third of motorists believe drivers should have their phones confiscated if they are caught using them behind the wheel.

The survey of 2,437 members found that 34% supported the action, which would be on top of a £200 fine and six penalty points.

Meanwhile, among those who believe the current laws are too lenient, 34% said drivers should face an instant six-month driving ban while 20% said fines should be raised to £1,000.

This comes after 62% of respondents said using phones while driving was a bigger problem than it was three years ago, with 80% saying the behaviour was a threat to their own safety on the road.

IAM RoadSmart director of policy and standards Nicholas Lyes said: “Using a handheld mobile phone at the wheel is illegal and dangerous and many drivers want police forces to prioritise enforcement against these offenders. Moreover, the idea of confiscation of phones and paying an additional fine for its return has the backing of a surprisingly sizeable number of drivers.

“The government should review the fine level alongside type-approving new camera technology to improve detection. These actions should be supported by a renewed high-profile education campaign highlighting the dangers of using a mobile phone while driving and consider the merits of offering more training courses.

“We also think social media companies have a responsibility to review policies and remove content as soon as possible when drivers post videos of themselves breaking the law.

“Ultimately, we need to break the cycle of phone addition once drivers get behind the wheel as it is a serious distraction that can have tragic results.”