47 drivers an hour caught using phone

Drivers support harsher punishments for mobile use

Is mobile phone use behind the wheel becoming more common? New figures from the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) suggest it most certainly is.

In fact, they show it’s become a heck of a lot more common.

In November last year, 36 police forces across England, Wales and Northern Ireland were part of a week-long crackdown on mobile phone use behind the wheel. With a brand new initiative starting this week, the NPCC released last year’s figures… and they paint a worrying picture.

Driven to distraction
Over the week, 47 drivers were caught using a mobile phone every hour. In total, 10,012 vehicles were stopped and 7,966 fixed penalty notices were handed out. Alongside these, there were 68 court summonses and 117 “other distraction” offences.

November’s crackdown wasn’t the first of its kind, with three other campaigns having taken place since the start of 2015.

In May 2015, up to 2,690 penalty notices were handed out. In September 2015 it dropped to 2,276. By May 2016, it had slightly increased to 2,323.

These previous figures put November’s 7,966 penalty notices into a whole new light, with the latest campaign highlighting just how many drivers are willing to risk the penalty to use their mobile phones – a penalty that looks set to increase this year, with both the fine and the number of points a driver will receive doubling.

High alert
This week, a new crackdown begins country-wide. There will be unmarked vans, helmet cameras and community spotters keeping an eye out in driving distraction hotspots.

NPCC’s lead for roads policing, Suzette Davenport, explained the goal of this new crackdown, and how the campaign will continue across the year.

She said: “This week, forces will be working to make driving distracted as socially unacceptable as drink-driving through enforcing strong deterrents and powerful messages to make people think twice about their driving habits.”

Remember…when at the wheel, your calls and texts can wait. Keep your eyes on the road.