Ten years on and too many drivers still use phones illegally

Mobile phone

Mobile phone - Credit: Archant

Drivers are being urged not to use their phones while behind the wheel as a road safety group marks ten years since the fixed penalty point system was introduced.

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Road Safety Partnership is urging drivers not to use their phones while driving, with this Sunday December 1, marking a decade since the introduction of a £30 fixed penalty ticket for drivers using a hand-held phone.

Since the introduction of the fixed penalty ticket in 2003, the penalties have been increased twice - first, in 2007 to include 3 points and a £60 fine, followed by the fine rising to £100 earlier this year.

Each change in legislation has seen a dip in the number of people observed using their phones, but this has gradually crept up to similar levels over a three-year period.

Figures from the Department for Transport show that 2.9% of car drivers and 5.0% of van and lorry drivers were observed using a mobile phone while driving in 2009.

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A recent survey also conducted by the Department for Transport indicated that four in ten motorists knew people who practiced dangerous driving behaviours with mobile phones - 39% using mobile without hands free and 38% texting whilst driving.

Matt Staton, from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Road Safety Partnership, said: “It is worrying how many people still think it is acceptable to use a mobile phone whilst driving.

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“Research shows that drivers are four times more likely to crash if they are using a mobile phone with this risk increasing further if the driver is texting or emailing using a smartphone.

“It is also evident that people who drive for work are more likely to be observed using their phones while driving so we would urge employers to ensure their health and safety policies relating to travelling for work address the issue clearly to reduce the risk to their staff as low as reasonably practicable.”

Inspector Mark Rogers said: “Officers carry out regular patrols targeting those flouting the law in relation to mobile phones when driving.

“Last year 2,535 drivers across Cambridgeshire were issued with the £60 fixed penalty notice and three points on their licence.

“It only takes a few seconds distraction from a mobile to cause a collision, which can have fatal consequences.

“Roads can be a dangerous place when the law is not respected and adhered to. If we are to reduce the number of fatalities and casualties on the county’s roads it is vital people comply with the law.”

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