Motorists undeterred by bigger phone fines

Fiercer fines are failing to stop motorists using hand-held mobile phones while driving, figures show.

The number of offenders is now higher than the year just before harsher penalties were introduced, the statistics revealed.

There were at least 171,000 fixed penalty notices (FPN) for mobile phone offences in 2010/11, according to Freedom of Information requests made to England and Wales police forces by insurance company

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With two of the 43 forces yet to respond, the 2010/11 figure was higher than the 166,800 total in 2006 – the year before the fine was doubled, with the threat of points going on to licences of offending drivers.

Swiftcover reported that Thames Valley Police had had an FPN increase of 21 per cent in 2010/11 compared with 2009/10. Other increases included Hampshire and the Yorkshire forces.

The research also showed that five per cent of drivers admitted using social networking sites while driving within the past year, with this figure rising to 12 per cent for 18 to 34-year-olds.

Robin Reames, chief claims officer at, said: “An irresponsible but substantial minority of motorists are continuing to flout laws and endanger others, all for the sake of a phone call.”

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Road Safety Minister Mike Penning said: “Be in no doubt, if you use your phone at the wheel you face a fine and three penalty points – the police have made tackling this a priority. And to make sure drivers take this seriously we are increasing the fine for the offence from £60 to between £80 and £100 next year.

“Using a mobile while driving makes you four times more likely to have a crash so I would appeal to all drivers – don’t risk your life or licence for the sake of a phone call or a text.”