Is there any vehicle driver who doesn’t know that it’s illegal to use a hand-held mobile when driving on the road, which can lead to a fine, loss of license and worse (if an accident occurs and accident claims are subsequently made) as a result of reduced concentration?
Probably not, as according to a Department for Transport survey the number of car drivers using hand-held and hands-free mobile phones reached more than 2.9 per cent in 2009, up from 2.7 per cent in 2007. By Autumn 2012, the Automobile Association reported that “more than two in five drivers were illegally using hands-held mobiles while at the wheel.”
Incredibly, 4 in ten drivers, when asked, said they “ didn’t think using a mobile phone is distracting.” Accident figures released by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), March 2012 beg to differ. Between 2006 and 2010, distraction because of using a mobile phone caused 1,690 road accidents resulting in an injury, 110 of which were fatal.
Research suggests that not only does the use of a mobile phone induce a form of “inattention blindness”, a driver is four times more likely to crash as reaction times have been reduced by a 50 per cent than when they are driving normally. Even drivers who claim to be “careful” can be distracted by a call or text by the “competition for visual processing”. A 2008 study conducted in the US found that “talking on a hands-free phone was more distracting than talking to a passenger.”
According to RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents), drivers who use a mobile phone, whether hand-held or hands-free:
By May 2013, it was estimated that in the ten years since it was made illegal in 2003, more than one million drivers had been convicted of using a handheld mobile phone behind the wheel. In the same month fines for using mobile phones, including texting, were increased from £60 to £90 plus three penalty points. Other careless driving offences included “Eating a sandwich or lighting a cigarette at the wheel, driving at an inappropriate speed, needlessly hogging the middle lane on a motorway and ‘cutting up’ other vehicles.”
Under the law, it’s also illegal to use a hand-held phone if a vehicle is stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic. The only exception is when there is a need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop or park safely.
Unfortunately, drivers may be too distracted to hear the message.