RAC calls for tougher enforcement as phone usage rises

New data has found that 25% of drivers admit to making or receiving calls on their mobile phones while driving.

According to the RAC Report on Motoring, the figure rises to 49% of drivers aged 17 to 24. Meanwhile, a further 30% of drivers under the age of 25 admit to video calling while behind the wheel.

In fact, the illegal use of mobile phones while driving has now been cited as the fourth largest concern, behind the state of roads, fuel prices and the poor standard of driving in general.

Fines for illegal mobile phone usage while driving have risen to £200 with six penalty points, with the law extending last year to cover any use of a handheld phone while driving.

RAC road safety spokesman Rod Dennis said: “It’s more than 20 years since it first became illegal to use a handheld phone while driving, and 17 years since the offence was first punishable through penalty points on drivers’ licences. Yet despite the penalties having since doubled to six penalty points and a £200 fine seven years ago, it’s clear far too many drivers are still prepared to put lives at risk by engaging in this dangerous practice.

“We suspect the main reason for this is the lack of enforcement which means there is little fear of being caught. As it’s impossible to have a police officer on every street corner, we urge more police forces to begin trialling camera-based technology that can automatically detect drivers breaking the law in this way.

“Without the dial being turned up on enforcement, there’s every chance we will never bring about the change needed to curb this behaviour. Ultimately, we have to make using a handheld phone at the wheel as socially unacceptable as drink-driving.”