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Illegal use of handheld phones while driving on the increase, survey shows

Date: 22 March 2019   |   Author: Sean Keywood

More people admitted illegally using handheld phones while driving in 2018 than 2017, with a big increase among some age groups, according to figures from the RAC.

The motoring organisation says 25% of drivers surveyed confessed illegally making or receiving calls while driving, compared with 24% in 2017.

The issue was most prevalent among drivers aged 25-34, of whom 47% admitted offending - the highest of any age group and a 7% increase on 2017.

This figure rose to 54% when they were asked about when the car was stationary but with the engine running.

Drivers aged 35-44 were also more common offenders than the average, with 39% admitting making or receiving calls while driving, and 54% while stationary. 

In addition, 36% of drivers aged 25-34 admitted sending texts, social media posts or emails while driving, and 30% admitted taking photos or videos.

The respective figures for 35-44 year olds were 29% - up 10% on 2017 - and 26% - also a 10% increase.

The survey also found significant increases in drivers admitting using a handheld phone when in control of a vehicle but not moving, such as at traffic lights or when sat in congestion.

According to the RAC, the figures suggest that the impact of tougher penalties for handheld phone use introduced in 2017 might be wearing off.

RAC spokesman Pete Williams said: "Following the introduction of stronger penalties in 2017, we saw a promising shift with some drivers changing their behaviour for the better and becoming compliant with the law - indeed recent observational data suggested this was the case.

"Sadly, that didn't signal the start of a longer-term trend, with drivers now seemingly returning to their old ways and putting themselves and millions of other road users at risk. 

"We also know from our research that in many cases motorists know using a handheld phone at the wheel is wrong, and we can see a clear downward trend in people who think it is safe to do it.

"But the problem remains, despite the fact the figures around deaths on our roads where someone was found to be using a mobile phone are stark - official figures show there were 32 needless deaths in 2017, with the true figure where a phone played a part in a collision likely to be significantly higher."

 



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