General Insurance Article - 2m pounds worth of fines handed to dangerous mobile drivers


New analysis by Direct Line Car Insurance reveals an average of more than 13,000 drivers are convicted for using, or causing others to use, a mobile phone whilst driving each year. An average of 1.6 drivers are convicted every hour, with all those successfully prosecuted paying over £2 million in fines each year.

 Over a quarter (29 per cent) of motorists in the last 12 months have used their phone behind the wheel, be it for calls, messaging or checking updates. This amounts to nearly 11 million motorists, or a motorist using their phone every three seconds on Britain’s roads. Despite the huge volume of drivers admitting to using their mobile phones at the wheel, the number of drivers prosecuted for using or causing others to use a mobile phone whilst driving has fallen by 23 per cent over the past five years (2014-2018).

 Despite large-scale public awareness campaigns, one in nine (4.4 million) motorists still believe it is legal to make or receive calls on a mobile phone when driving, while eight per cent (three million) believe it is legal to send messages on their phone at the wheel. These drivers risk prosecution and at worst, serious injury or death, for careless driving should they be caught engaging in these activities whilst in control of a vehicle.

 Law abiding motorists are being put at risk by road users that aren’t focussing with their full attention. The research shows seven per cent of drivers, approximately 2.7 million people, have been involved in a road traffic collision as a result of not paying attention to the road. Over two thirds of these individuals (1.8 million) confess to habitually using their phone. Analysis reveals the risk of being involved in a collision amongst those who touch their phone when driving is three times greater than for those that don’t use their phone at all behind the wheel.

 Significant numbers of motorists are consistently failing to pay attention to the road, with nearly 14,000 drivers prosecuted for driving without due care and attention each year, puttingat risk the lives of other road users including cyclists and pedestrians. In the last three years 41,215 drivers have been prosecuted for driving without due care and attention. A total of £7.2 million in fines have been handed out over the same time period while 27,243 motorists have received between two and 11 penalty points for the offence.

 Steve Barrett, head of motor insurance at Direct Line, commented: “Driving using a mobile phone should be as socially unacceptable as drink driving, as it is both dangerous and illegal. It only takes a second with eyes off the road, or being distracted by a mobile phone, for a life altering accident to happen or for a driver to find themselves facing prosecution and a criminal record. With new technology available to the police that uses sensors to detect if a driver is using their phone, people are at greater risk of prosecution for these offences than ever before. It is worrying that the majority of law-abiding drivers are being put at risk by those who allow themselves to be distracted behind the wheel.”

 The research also identified the most common careless driving behaviours motorists admit to undertaking behind the wheel. These include eating (34 per cent), drinking (29 per cent) and altering the sat nav (22 per cent) while driving.

 Further analysis of road accident data reveals that in 2018, 25 fatal and 92 serious accidents were caused on Britain’s roads by motorists using their mobile phone – a total of 117 incidents. This is an 11 per cent increase when compared to five years ago, a significant increase when compared to the overall number of accidents, which only grew by two per cent over the same timeframe. Over the past five years alone, 133 fatalities and 446 serious accidents have been directly linked to drivers being distracted by their phones – an average of one major incident every three days. 

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