End of the road for mobile phone usage behind the wheel? Let’s hope so.

13 February 2019

Georgina Everett-Beecham takes a look at the latest figures released by the Department for Transport.

Statistics published by the Department for Transport this week have revealed that in 2017 1.1% of drivers were seen using a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving on weekdays within Great Britain. This represents a fall of 0.5% since 2014 when 1.6% of all drivers were seen using a mobile; it can only be hoped that these figures continue to fall.

Figures show that for car drivers specifically, there has been a sharp drop in hand-held mobile phone use since harsher penalties were established. The October 2017 figures for car drivers revealed that this is now down to 0.5%, following the penalty increase of March 2017. The fine was increased from £100 to £200 and 6 penalty points can be issued, with a maximum fine of £1000 if the case reaches court with disqualification as a possibility. It therefore appears that the penalty may have served to deter drivers from breaking the law.

The highest proportion of drivers using phones at the wheel are those driving taxi and private hire cars, with 3.3% of those drivers reported to be doing so within Great Britain. For all vehicle types all drivers were more frequently observed to be using a mobile phone whilst on an urban road, as opposed to on country roads. The highest proportion of drivers within Great Britain were caught using a mobile phone between the hours of 17:30 to 18:00. 

Whilst this news is a step in the right direction, it’s clear that there are still drivers out there who consider it acceptable to use mobile phones behind the wheel; despite the obvious and serious dangers. Employers should take this opportunity to consider their mobile phone policy for employees who drive for work. Remember, this is not just professional drivers but employees who are required to travel to meetings, offices etc. outside of their normal commute.

Our Regulatory and Corporate Defence Team here at Birketts are poised to assist. For those in the transport industry we also now have the services of Beverley Bell CBE as a Consultant in the team. Beverley was the Senior Traffic Commissioner for Great Britain, and the first female Traffic Commissioner for the North West of England.