10 stats that prove the dangers of using a mobile while driving
Driving is a task that demands our undivided attention. We all know that. Still, some people can’t resist the urge to pick up their mobile phone when behind the wheel – to call a friend, scroll through Instagram, or snap a quick pic.
Shockingly, around 11 million motorists in the UK admit that they use their smartphones while in the driver’s seat.
Distracted drivers cause hundreds, often thousands of accidents each year on the UK’s roads, some of which have fatal consequences. It doesn’t just put your life at risk, but the lives of any passengers, other road users and pedestrians, too.
As well as the safety risk, drivers caught in the act will almost certainly receive a fine and points on their licence. In more serious cases – for instance, where someone is using a mobile phone while driving at speed on a motorway – it could result in a driving ban and potential prison sentence if the driver causes death by dangerous or careless driving.
Drivers who are caught committing a motoring offence will need specialist convicted driver insurance that takes into account their driving history. Standard insurance premiums will increase significantly for convicted drivers, which is why specialist cover arranged through an expert provider like the Insurance Factory is a must.
Outright ban on use of hand-held phones from 2021
Changes being introduced in 2021 will see drivers fined £200 and face potential driving bans for using hand-held phones in any way. Fortunately though, mobile phone use behind the wheel has fallen in recent years.
As the Guardian explains, while making calls or texting on a smartphone when behind the wheel is already against the law, scrolling through playlists or playing games wasn’t outlawed. This meant that people could escape potential convictions and charges if they were caught.
However, the government is now planning to update the law in order to close the ‘legal loophole’, which at the moment defines the offence as only ‘interactive communication.’
Baroness Vere, roads minister, commented: “Our roads are some of the safest in the world, but we want to make sure they’re safer still by bringing the law into the 21st century.
“That’s why we’re looking to strengthen the law to make using a hand-held phone while driving illegal in a wider range of circumstances. It’s distracting and dangerous, and for too long risky drivers have been able to escape punishment, but this update will mean those doing the wrong thing will face the full force of the law.”
The law will be introduced following a 12-week public consultation, and would give police the power to immediately take action if they spotted a driver using a mobile phone at the wheel. The offence will carry a £200 fine and six points.
If those six points meant a driver accrued 12 or more points on their licence in total, that would mean an automatic ban. For new drivers who have passed their test in the last two years, it would lead to an immediate ban and them having to retake both parts of their driving test again before they can get back on the road.
There are certain exceptions, however. Drivers will still be able to use their phones to pay for goods or services at drive-through businesses like takeaways. A government spokesperson also said that drivers can use their phones as sat navs, provided they aren’t physically holding them.
It’s worth noting that you could still be prosecuted for driving without due care and attention if you attempt to type an address into your mobile sat nav while behind the wheel.
The dangers – in stats
Sometimes it’s easier to understand the risks and dangers of certain offences by familiarising yourself with some of the stats around it. Here are 10 that really highlight the severity of the issue and emphasise why drivers shouldn’t take chances by using a phone at the wheel:
- Using a phone behind the wheel makes you four times more likely to be in a crash, says road safety charity Brake.
- Reaction times when using hands-free phones are 30% slower than the reaction times at the drink-drive limit.
- The RAC found that almost half (47%) of drivers aged 25-34 admit that they make or receive calls while driving, compared with just 25% among all age groups…
- … This rises to 57% among drivers who say that they use their phone while stationary in their car but with the engine running.
- Over a third (36%) of drivers aged 25 to 34 say they send texts, social posts or emails while driving, compared to 16% across all age groups.
- In the US the National Safety Council reports that mobile phone use while driving causes around 1.6 million crashes each year.
- Texting while driving is six times more likely to lead to an accident than driving while under the influence of alcohol.
- Male drivers are more likely to use a hand-held mobile phone at the wheel than women (1.7% compared with 1.3%) according to a factsheet from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA).
- Van drivers are more likely to use a phone behind the wheel than car drivers (2.7% compared with 1.4%).
- Between 2014 and 2019, a total of 133 fatalities and 446 serious accidents were directly linked to drivers being distracted by their phones – that’s an average of one major incident every three days.
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