Motoring group, the RAC, has said that it has seen figures that suggest the number of people that have been convicted of talking or texting on their mobile phone while driving, without using a hands-free kit, has halved in the last five years, despite the fact that drivers are now more likely to do so. They have said that the drop is purely down to the reduction in the number of police that are patrolling roads and ensuring that the law is enforced.
Drivers that are caught using a mobile phone without a hands-free kit face three penalty points and a £100 fine if dealt with using a Fixed Penalty Notice. Those that challenge the conviction, or those that are unable to accept an FPN because it means that they would have accumulated 12 points over a period of three years, could see a greater penalty applied to them.
Laws were introduced to prevent drivers from using a mobile phone in this way in a bid to reduce the number of accidents that were being caused by mobile phone drivers. Using a mobile not only means that a person has less control over their vehicle, because one hand is engaged in holding and using the phone, but it also means that they are more likely to be distracted and have their attention taken away from the road.
The fine for such offences has increased, having previously been a £60 fine, and the idea of doubling the fine again to £200 has been mooted by the government. However, motoring groups, legal experts, and even drivers themselves, have suggested that it would be more effective to employ greater policing to the existing laws rather than attempting to further increase the penalties that are handed out.
In terms of the number pf prosecutions recorded, this only refers to those cases that reach the courts, and this number has halved in the past five years. However, the number of people that have been handed FPNs over the same period and for the same offences has also dropped despite a 40% increase in the number of accidents that have been directly attributed to the use of a mobile phone while driving.