One in four drivers still use their mobile phones at the wheel – despite the introduction of harsher penalties for those who are caught breaking the law.
In March, the Government cracked down on offenders by doubling the punishment from three points to six and increasing the fine to £200.
Since then, the number of motorists who chat, text, email or check social media has fallen – but 23% of those questioned by the RAC admitted they still habitually use their phone while driving.
Drivers are four times more likely to be involved in a crash while using their phone, the motoring organisation said.
The RAC’s Report on Motoring 2017 survey also suggests that 40% of drivers send messages, write emails and check social media while sitting in traffic – despite the fact it is against the law.
RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: “Twelve months ago our research revealed that the illegal use of hand-held mobile phones by drivers was at epidemic proportions – a year on and the situation still remains dire.
“It is clear we have a hard core of persistent offenders who believe they can get away with it by continuing to flout the law every day and we fear this may get worse with fewer dedicated roads policing officers.”
The number of people who illegally make or receive calls is falling – from 31% in 2016 to 23% this year. Of the 15% of drivers who the RAC calls “hardcore” law breakers, 57% were men.
In July, Suffolk Police launched a campaign to change the perception of how people view the offence, with the aim to make using a phone at the wheel as socially unacceptable as drink-driving.
Chief Inspector Kris Barnard, head of the Norfolk and Suffolk Roads Policing and Firearms Operations Unit, said: “If you take your eyes off the road for just three seconds when doing 70mph you will travel further than the length of a football pitch. Ask yourself: what could happen in that time?
“Drivers might not think a momentary glance at a text message is harming anyone, but think of what’s going on around you.”
Police say using a mobile behind the wheel is one of the ‘fatal four’ traffic offences, along with drink/drug-driving, driving too fast, and failing to wear a seatbelt.
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