This week across England, Wales and Northern Ireland 36 police forces will run the latest clampdown on motorists using mobiles illegally, yet new evidence suggests a new approach is needed or road safety is at risk.
The study reveals that two-thirds of drivers believe the introduction of technology to disable certain phone functions – backed by Government legislation – will curb the illegal use of mobiles behind the wheel.
Nearly half (46%) of motorists think it is OK to check their phone when stopped or in slow moving traffic. They do not fear being caught and admit they struggle to be digitally disconnected.
Research of 1,000 drivers for Continental Tyres’ Vision Zero – a commitment to reduce road fatalities worldwide – found that 11.3 million UK motorists regularly use a mobile phone illegally.
Some 45% of people struggle to be without their smartphone and more than one in four feel it is now normal to check their phone when in traffic – prompting the wish for people to be saved from themselves with a blanket ban via some sort of blocking device.
Continental Tyres’ safety expert Mark Griffiths said: “Our research identifies that people know what they do is illegal, distracting, and dangerous, yet they cannot help themselves.
“With such ingrained behaviours and even with the penalties due to be doubled it has to be questioned whether the current approach is enough.
“Advances in technology from automotive businesses like ours have made dramatic advances in road safety. The current endemic use of mobiles illegally threatens to erode, even reverse progress.
“It is interesting that motorists think the solution lies with compulsory in-car technology to disable certain phone functions, such as texting, making calls or using social media, to prevent them from putting their selves at risk. It’s likely there is value in this view.”
One in three drivers think the problem is getting worse and another 26% think advances in road safety through new technology is being cancelled by our inability to our phones out of reach.
Griffiths said: “When motorists want an enforced solution rather than manage their own behaviour it points to a serious issue.
“It is imperative we find a way to tackle this. Distracted drivers create a ‘switch cost’, the critical time it takes us to shift from something like reading a text to again being fully engaged in driving. In that brief period we are a clear risk to ourselves and all others around us.”