Tough new penalties for using a mobile phone while driving could see the number of offenders drop dramatically, new research suggests.
In 2014, Government figures revealed that more than 500,000 motorists were still using their mobile phones while driving each day. And, new research shows that more than half (51%) of UK drivers admit they have used their mobile phone whilst driving.
However, the punishment of three penalty points and a fine of £100 will double from today (March 1).
A Leasing Options survey showed more than three quarters (76%) of drivers were aware of the changes and a huge 91% said the increase in punishment would deter them from using their mobile phone when driving in the future.
However, it’s not just the increase in penalty points and a £200 fine that puts drivers off taking the risk; more than three quarters (77%) admitted that the removal of a remedial course as an alternative punishment (to receiving points on your licence and a fine) would also be a big factor in deterring them.
Although 29% of respondents said they would never deem it okay to use a mobile phone while driving, a further 28% still said they would deem it okay in an emergency and 16% said they would use their mobile phone when the car is stopped at traffic lights.
Drivers were also asked what the ‘naughtiest’ things they’ve ever done whilst driving and the results revealed that UK drivers have previously risked using their phone in a car for activities including playing Pokemon Go, facetiming and taking selfies.
But, even if they are not actively using their mobile phones themselves, more than three quarters (77%) of 25 to 34 year olds admitted that if their phone goes off (either a phone call, text or notification) when they are driving, even if they don’t answer, they find it distracting.
Mike Thompson, brand manager at Leasing Options, said: “There has been a lot of discussion recently as to whether the increase in punishment would actually stop people using their phones whilst driving. We are pleased to see that our research shows it may well see the number of drivers receiving points on their license for this offence decrease.
“It’s important that we recognise mobile phones in vehicles as distractions and do all we can to remove this completely. The risks involved in picking up the phone for the driver, as well as other drivers on the road, is far too great.”