posted 4 years ago

Using a Mobile Phone Whilst Driving, Are We Becoming Better Behaved?

BBC releases figures showing a 24% drop in fixed penalty notices that were issued since 2014.

Written by Alison Ashworth, Motoring Lawyer at Forster Dean Solicitors.

Recently, the BBC released figures showing a 24% drop in the fixed penalty notices that were issued since 2014.

In my view there are four possible reasons for this:

  1. Driving Attitudes Towards Using a Mobile Telephone Whilst Driving Have Changed - Campaigning to raise awareness of the dangers of using a mobile phone whilst driving has remained consistent over the last few years. Last year, the Government proposed increasing the current 3 point penalty for driving whilst using a mobile phone to 6 points, to show how serious the offence was viewed.
  2. Deterrence - A number of cases have hit the headlines recently involving fatal crashes where the driver was using a mobile telephone either just before or during the collision. Due to improvements in the evidential value of mobile phone records it is now possible for them to play a significant part of the prosecution’s case. Under such circumstances, the driver is likely to face a much more severe punishment, with the use of the mobile telephone indicating dangerous driving, for which a motorist could face up to 14 years imprisonment if a death occurred following the accident.
  3. Courses - In some areas, it is now possible to avoid a fixed penalty for using a mobile telephone whilst driving by successfully completing a course, in the same way that a speeding ticked can be avoided by attending a speed awareness course. By attending the course, the motorist will never be reported for the offence, and will not therefore be included in any statistics for mobile telephone offences where the number of fixed penalty notices issued is the measure.
  4. Resources - The numbers of police officers on our roads have been cut significantly over the years, with road policing numbers falling by 12 per cent nationally. Although technology is in the process of being tested to allow for mobile phone use to be identified in a similarly automatic way to speeding, at present, there must be a physical witness to the crime in order to provide the evidence required to convict. The absence of police officers from our roads must therefore point to one of the most probable causes for the reduction in fixed penalty notices being issued for this offence. If nobody is there to witness and process the crime, then how can the crime be recorded?

Using a mobile telephone whilst driving is dangerous and can cost lives. If caught, you would face a fixed penalty of three points and a £100 fine. If however the case went to Court, the fine could be up to £1000 or £2500 if a bus or goods vehicle was being driven at the time of the offence. Further costs, such as a victim surcharge and Prosecution costs would be added to the penalty. An instant ban is also a sentencing option if the case went to Court.

Have Your Say

Anonymously tell us whether you have used a hand-held mobile phone to text, call or use apps whilst driving in the last six months.

If points are imposed for this offence, then it’s important to remember that they count towards your liability under the totting up regime, bringing you ever closer to the 12 point threshold whereby a 6 month disqualification from driving could be imposed.

If you have been accused of any motoring offence such as using a mobile phone whilst driving and would like to discuss your case in confidence with a specialist motoring lawyer, call 0333 323 1830. Lines are open round the clock at a time to suit you.

Written by Expert Motoring Lawyer, Alison Ashworth - Head of Motoring Law at Forster Dean Solicitors.