The risks of using your phone whilst driving

Almost half a million drivers in Great Britain were spotted using their mobile phone behind the wheel in 2017, reveals Department for Transport (DfT) data cited by Auto Express.
The approximate-445,000 people spotted using phones whilst driving, without hands-free, in 2017 represent 1.1% of all drivers in Great Britain. It’s actually a 0.5% decline over the past three years, though road safety experts say that the figure doesn’t reflect what law-abiding motorists “see on a daily basis”.
The rate for Scotland stood at 2% – that’s notably higher than the 0.6% recorded for England and Wales.
The data revealed that people aged between 17 and 29 were the worst offenders, with 4% caught using their phone whilst in the driver’s seat. The gender split was reasonably balanced, at 1.2% of men and 1.1% of women, while in terms of vehicle, drivers of taxis and private hire cars were most likely to commit the offence – at 3.3%.
Though the rate of offences has dropped slightly, RAC road safety spokesperson Pete Williams said data from his company suggests the problem of people using their phones whilst driving has “far from gone away”.
He added: “We suspect many drivers will be very sceptical of these findings as they don’t reflect what they see on a daily basis.”

There are a number of implications if you get caught using your mobile phone at the wheel. One of these is the impact it could have on your car insurance. Your premium is likely to rise if you commit a driving offence, or it’s possible that many providers will outright refuse to cover you altogether.
At Insurance Factory, we help drivers find competitive convicted driver insurance after they’ve committed one of a number of offences. We don’t judge; instead, we’ll look at your individual circumstances to find you a suitable policy for your car.

Using a phone at the wheel: a recap

As Gov.UK notes, it’s against the law to hold a mobile phone or a sat nav whilst in control of a car. This law applies if you’re moving, stopped at traffic lights, queuing in traffic or supervising someone who’s learning to drive.
If you need to use your mobile phone or sat nav, you must have hands-free access, which may take the form of:
·         A bluetooth headset
·         A dashboard holder
·         Voice command
·         A built-in sat nav
·         A windscreen mount

Whichever device you’re using, it cannot block your view of the road or traffic ahead, and you must be in control of your car at all times. The police have the power to pull you over if they think that you’re distracted and not in proper control of the vehicle. You can be prosecuted, too.

Penalties for using your phone at the wheel

If you get caught using your mobile phone whilst driving, you could receive six penalty points on your driving licence plus a £200 fine. If you’ve passed your test in the last two years, you’ll lose your driving licence and will have to retake (and pay for) both parts of the test again.

You can receive three penalty points if police discover you don’t have full view of the road ahead or proper control of the car.

Depending on your case, you could end up in court, where you might be banned from driving and/or fined up to £1,000 (or up to £2,500 if you were driving a bus or lorry when you were caught).
Killing or seriously injuring someone due to using your phone at the wheel could lead to a prison sentence and criminal record.

Other risks of driving while on the phone

Driving whilst using a mobile phone doesn’t just have implications for your driving record. It’s also extremely dangerous – to you and all other road users.
Using a phone distracts you from driving, a task that requires your undivided attention. By using a phone, you’re putting your life – and the lives of other road users – at risk. It could have fatal consequences; two seconds of looking down at your phone is all that’s needed for you to lose control of your car and be involved in a serious accident.
In studies reported by road safety charity Brake, talking on the phone while driving can also lead to aggressive, compensatory driving behaviour, especially when braking; difficulty in judging when to apply the brakes; and delayed stopping and starting. All of these can increase the risk of being involved in a collision.
Meanwhile, in another study cited by Brake, using a mobile phone to send a text message was found to slow a driver’s reaction time by 35%.
DfE data cited by Metro shows that there were 33 deaths on Great Britain’s roads in 2017 caused by someone using a mobile phone at the wheel. That’s a slight increase from the 32 deaths recorded in 2016.
More generally in 2017, there were 431 accidents caused by mobile phone use – 308 were slight accidents and 90 were serious.

When can you use a mobile device?

As Gov.UK explains, there are two instances where it’s OK to use your mobile phone when you’re behind the wheel. The first is if you’re safely parked, and the other is if you need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s either unsafe or impractical to stop.
If you’re someone who gets easily distracted by a ringing or flashing phone, the best piece of advice is to switch your phone to silent and store it well out of sight whenever you’re behind the wheel. That will remove the temptation to look at your device until you are stationary and in a safe place.  

Convicted driver insurance from Insurance Factory

If you’ve been caught using your phone whilst driving, or have committed another offence like speeding, Insurance Factory can help you to find a convicted driver insurance policy when you’re ready to get back on the road.
We’ve got more than 20 years of experience in arranging convicted driver insurance for motorists. Get a quote today!