Mobile phone use at the wheel on the rise

While it may be illegal to do so, motorists using a mobile while driving have become a regular sight on UK roads.

And this is reflected in recent research by the RAC, which found that the number of UK drivers who use a mobile phone at wheel has quadrupled over the last two years.

The International Business Times UK reports that a lack of fear of being caught is encouraging motorists to flout the law.

Since 2014, the number of drivers who admitted to using a phone while driving has grown from 8% to 31%.

And it seems people's love of social media could be having an impact on what they do at the wheel, with the RAC's survey revealing a rise in the number of drivers finding it acceptable to check social media on their phone when in stationary traffic. This increased from 14% to 20%.

But motorists' use of mobile phones at the wheel doesn't stop there. Worryingly, 14% of respondents admitted to taking videos or photographs on their phone whilst driving.

Despite this increased illegal use of phones by drivers, figures released in January of this year revealed the number of motorists receiving fines for driving while on the phone fell from 123,000 in 2011 to just 30,000.

The RAC believes the increased ownership of smartphones combined with a decrease in roads policing officers have contributed to the rise in mobile phone use by drivers.

RAC road safety spokesman, Peter Williams, commented: "Sadly, motorists' attitudes to using handheld mobile phones while driving appear to be relaxing rather than tightening.

"This is due to the combination of our constantly growing addiction to ever more sophisticated smartphones, coupled with there being little or no fear of being caught in the act as a result of declining numbers of roads policing officers.

"Add to this the failure of successive governments to invest in a public awareness campaign to make handheld mobile phone use at the wheel as socially unacceptable as drink-driving and you can see why this illegal driving behaviour is now at epidemic proportions."

To tackle the issue of phone use while driving, Chief Constable Suzette Davenport, National Police Chiefs' Council lead for roads policing, said the organisation wanted a blend of "education and enforcement."

Speaking to the Telegraph, Davenport explained: "We run national operations and forces take action locally.

"We will continue to stress the dangerous consequences, and arrest offenders, but we also need people to take responsibility for their behaviour behind the wheel and exert some social pressure on family and friends who take this risk."

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