/ Motoring, Technology

Are drivers still flouting the law by using their mobiles?

Should the authorities come down harder on drivers using mobile phones? The penalties might be severe, but do you think they are being sufficiently enforced?

I was on my way to work the other day when a pedestrian walked out in front of my bike, without looking. Only once I’d swerved past him could I see the other side of his face where a mobile was rammed to his ear.

He was mid-conversation, not even considering what he’d just done. I missed him by a whisker and I must have caused him to jump out of his skin. He was back on the pavement when I turned back to give him the most scornful look I could muster!

I thought his actions were pretty gormless and had I hit him, he would have been totally to blame. In London, this behaviour seems pretty much the norm. And while I’ve noticed it happening in my home town, it isn’t nearly as commonplace.

But it’s so much worse when someone in a vehicle is on their phone. Things suddenly become a whole lot more serious.

Harsh penalties for calling in your car

When we asked you about your driving bugbears, drivers using mobile phones was the second biggest irritant, taking 20% of your votes.

The act of using a hand-held mobile while driving is certainly illegal, with an automatic £60 penalty and three points on your licence if you’re caught. And if it were to go to court, the penalty could go up to £2,500 for a public service or heavy goods vehicle, or £1,000 for a car. You could also be banned from driving.

These are severe deterrents but, to me, they don’t seem to be working (from seeing so many drivers still flouting the law). Are the rules enforced? Or are drivers left to tootle along, phone clamped to ear and one hand on the wheel?

The dangers of driving on the phone

The Institute of Advanced Motorists recently published research claiming the use of mobile phones while driving is more dangerous than drink driving. Admittedly they were looking at reaction times while doing something as stupid as trying to access social networking sites, rather than simply making a call.

Frankly, it never occurred to me that anyone would try to access the internet on their smartphone while also at the controls of a car! But it seems, however daft this action might seem, the police need to look out for people trying to update Facebook on the move.

I have a couple of friends who are policemen and they’ve spoken of giving people verbal warnings about mobile use, but as far as I know they rarely actually apply any penalties.

So, should we come down harder on offenders? While most people on mobiles don’t necessarily have accidents, the risk that their negligence might cause a collision or hit someone is, in my view, too high.

Should the authorities come down harder on drivers using mobile phones?

Yes - we need more severe penalties and further enforcement (60%, 286 Votes)

Yes - the penalties are severe enough; they just need to be enforced (34%, 163 Votes)

No - the problem of drivers using mobile phones is overblown (5%, 22 Votes)

No - the penalties are just right and they're being properly enforced (2%, 9 Votes)

Total Voters: 483

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Philip Kearns says:
18 May 2012

We have the same problem in Ireland with mobile phone users. The worst I saw was a woman moving away from a school after dropping off her children and she was texting as she drove off.

Another problem I frequently see in Ireland too is where people pull onto the hard shoulder of motorways to make or accept mobile phone calls. They are obviously unaware that this is also illegal and extremely dangerous. I seem to remember British statistics showing that most motorway crashes start with collisions with stationary or slow-moving vehicles in the hard shoulder.

Having just travelled from Cheshire to Plymouth and return, two motorway incidents where one driver was straddling lanes 1 and 2, and another where the driver wandered changing lanes without signalling into the path of another car (not mine) revealed that both drivers were on their phones at the time. I also saw a driver doing 30mph in the inside lane on the M5 with what looked like a book on the sterring wheel. People do this because they consider the chances of being caught are slim – and they are correct – until they have an accident when the police will automatically check their mobiles to see when they were being used. Penalties need to be sreally evere for second offenders – including disqualification.

I received this call a couple of days ago.
“Hi It’s me I am on my way.”
“Are you driving.”
“You really shouldn’t use the phone then.”
“Why not, oh sh** I’ve just gone through a red light.”
I will not embarrass my wife by saying who made the call to me, but I feel lesson well learnt, and thankfully no accident.

25 June 2012

Replying to ‘Wavechange’

Mind you the thought of some driver with half his body hanging out of the window still trying to make a call on the move, springs to mind. There really is no end to human stupidity is there.

I laughed at first when I read your above post, but, on reflection, you are right!……..There IS no end to human stupidity!…………Sadly!

Frank Crook. says:
24 July 2012

A lot of people just do not care about using mobile phone when driving because the fines are NOT big enough, If caught the fine should be at least £250 the users may then think twice,

I find it infuriating the amount of people using their phones whilst driving. There seems to be no deterrent. The law needs to change and harsher punishments given. The problem is actually spotting these offenders!