Almost every motorist has witnessed another driver illegally using a mobile phone in the past 12 months, research suggests.
Figures from the AA/Populus survey show 99% of respondents said they had seen another driver using a hand-held mobile device and one-in-ten (10%) had been so annoyed they beeped their horn, flashed their lights, gesticulated or shouted at them.
Jim Kirkwood, managing director of AA DriveTech, said: “The use of hand-held mobile phones is an epidemic amongst drivers who appear to be addicted to using their phone whenever and wherever they please.”
Drivers caught using their hand-held mobile phones face three points on their licence and a fixed penalty fine of £100. If the case goes to court they could be fined up to £1,000.
Many police forces may now offer a driver an educational course instead of points and a fine; if this happens the driver will have to pay for the cost of attending the course, which is usually around £90.
The research reveals that drivers in Yorkshire and Humberside and West Midlands were most likely to react to illegal mobile phone use (13%); those in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were the least (9%).
And a small minority (1%), equating to around 350,000 drivers, have attempted to stop another driver and let them know they are annoyed at seeing them use their hand-held mobile phone. This was highest amongst drivers in the North East (2%).
A further six drivers in the North East have actually stopped another driver after seeing them on a hand-held mobile phone and had an argument with them.
Kirkwood said: “Drivers seem to be split into two camps – those who are so against drivers using hand-held mobiles that their blood boils when they see someone doing it and those who just carry on using their phones at the wheel without seemingly caring about the risk.
“While we absolutely don’t suggest drivers take the law into their own hands and confront other drivers, these results do highlight the frustration of many motorists who do recognise the risks if using a mobile phone while driving.”
Meanwhile, young drivers, aged 18-24, are the most likely (2%) to say they or a passenger in their car has taken a photo or video of another driving using a hand-held mobile phone and posted it online.
They are also the most likely to say they react when they see another driver using a hand-held mobile (13%).
Their frustrations are highlighted as official figures show a 29% increase in mobile phone-related fatal crashes and a 10% increase in all mobile phone-related crashes.
Kirkwood concluded: “Drivers who use their hand-held phones are at best risking points, a fine or attending an educational course, but at worst they are risking death and serious injury.”
The survey was backed up by findings from BCA, released yesterday (October 30).