A survey from GoCompare Car Insurance has revealed that a third (34%) of drivers use their mobile phones illegally while in their car, with the figure rising to 58% of 18-24 year old drivers. More drivers are tempted to use their phone while waiting in traffic, with the number of drivers using their phone behind the wheel reducing to 25% while actually moving.
However, the corresponding figure for 18-24 years olds hardly changes at all – dropping from 58% to 56%. Those aged 18 to 24 are nearly three times more likely to use their phone to change the music or to re-programme their sat-nav app while driving and nearly twice as likely to illegally make a call with a hand-held device.
Nearly a fifth of motorists admitted to checking messages or emails on their phone when sat in a traffic queue, while 13% have used their mobile phone to change music or re-programme their sat-nav phone app. Only 32% of the motorists surveyed put their phone out of reach while they are driving.
Driving laws have prohibited the use of hand-held mobile phones behind the wheel since 2003. Harsher penalties for hand-held mobile phone use while driving were introduced in 2017 to deter motorists from the potentially deadly distraction. The law also applies to stationary vehicles.
The only time drivers are permitted to use a hand-held device is when they are safely parked, with their car’s engine turned off and the handbrake applied.
Motorists are allowed to use a hands-free mobile phone while driving, but they can still be prosecuted if they are found not to be in proper control of their car or to have been distracted.
Offenders face fines of £200 and six points on their licence. Newly qualified drivers are only permitted to have six points on their licence in the first two years of driving – so could lose their licence as a result of a single phone call or social media update. To regain their licence, they must reapply for a provisional licence and can only drive as a learner until passing a further driving test.