A new study by the RAC of 2,000 UK drivers found just 36 per cent of motorists surveyed could correctly state that the current penalties are six points and a £200 fine for using a handheld mobile phone while driving. A quarter (26 per cent) were not aware the penalties became more severe in March 2017.
A spokesman for the South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership said: "With two thirds of drivers apparently unaware of the penalties of using a handheld mobile while driving, here's a reminder:
- If you're caught, that means six points and a £200 fine
- If you've had your licence two years or less, you'll lose it and will have to re-take your test
- It's not just phone calls - texting, emailing, streaming, taking photos or video, checking maps... all qualify as mobile phone use
- The laws still apply when you're waiting in traffic or at a red light
- If you're supervising a learner driver, the laws apply to you as if you were driving yourself"
RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: “Despite extensive publicity and awareness-raising campaigns run at both a local and national level, it is remarkable that such a high proportion of drivers seemingly remain unaware of the current penalties for using a handheld phone at the wheel.
“The law around handheld phone use by drivers, and the penalties associated with ignoring it, could not be clearer. Yet every year there are dozens of fatal crashes caused by motorists who have allowed themselves to be distracted by their phone – and our own data suggests millions of drivers are continuing to put themselves and others at risk in this way.
“Our research clearly shows motorists believe the key to ending other drivers’ dangerous handheld phone use is greater enforcement and that tougher penalties are really only part of the answer. This makes sense – despite the increased penalties there remains a hard core of drivers who continue to ignore the law and all the risks associated with handheld phone use."
Latest figures show that the number of fatal collisions caused by motorists using a mobile phone while driving are rising. There were 32 fatal collisions in 2016, up from 22 the year before, and a total of 2,210 collisions of all severities where a mobile phone was involved between 2012 and 2016.
Previous RAC research also suggests that around nine million UK motorists habitually use a handheld phone while driving.