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Driven to distraction by your phone?

A third of all drivers illegally use their phones, removing their attention from the road. 

Using a hand-held mobile phone behind the wheel has been an offence since 2003, and harsher penalties were introduced in 2017. 

Despite this, GoCompare Car Insurance research* has shown 34% of drivers use their mobile phone in their car. Shockingly, this figure shoots up to 58% of 18-24 year olds. 

When it comes to phone use while on the move, generally the percentage falls to 25%, but for 18-24 year olds, it barely changes at all, dropping to 56%. 

Only 32% of motorists said they put their phone out of reach when driving. 

The only time you’re allowed to use your phone in your car is if you’re parked safely, with the handbrake on and engine off.

Alternatively, you could use a hand-free device provided you remain fully in control of the car. 

The consequences of using a mobile phone on the road

For those ignoring the law, they’ll be lumbered with a £200 fine and six points on their licence

New drivers are only allowed to rack up six points in the first two years of driving, so they’d end up losing their licence. 

Distracted drivers3

To be allowed on the roads again, they must reapply for a provisional licence and re-take their driving test. 

That’s not to mention the trouble they’d be in if their illegal phone usage caused an accident – not worth checking a text for. 

Samuel Nahk, spokesperson for Brake, the road safety charity, said, “Mobile phone use behind the wheel, in any form, is illegal and highly dangerous and those who do it are selfishly putting other road users’ lives at risk.

“Anything that distracts a driver’s attention from the road, even for a split second, can lead to devastation. 

“Using a phone behind the wheel should be as unacceptable as drink driving, with studies showing that reaction times whilst texting are double those of drink-drivers. This new research makes it clear that mobile phone use behind the wheel is all too prevalent and a crackdown is required to rid our roads of this menace.”

In my opinion…

It’s over 15 years since driving while using a hand-held mobile first became illegal.  In that time, technology has developed rapidly, and smartphones have become an invaluable part of most people’s lives – helping us to do everything from communicating, paying for goods and helping us find our way around. And, as our research shows some people are so addicted to their phones they’re prepared to break the law. 

But, using a hand-held mobile phone is one of the most dangerous distractions for drivers. 

It removes their attention from the road ahead, slows down reaction times and driving one handed can result in the driver not being fully in control of the vehicle - any of which could have potentially fatal consequences for themselves or other road users.

To stay safe and on the right side of the law, drivers wanting to use their phone while driving need to make sure that it’s hands-free. Devices should be fully set-up before they start driving. 

For example, a smartphone used for navigation should be in a cradle fixed to the car’s dashboard or windscreen in clear view, without obstructing the driver’s view of the road, with the destination programmed before setting off - so the phone does not need to be handled during the journey. 

Drivers should also remember that they can’t use their smartphone to pay for items while driving – for instance when buying fast food from a drive through takeaway.

In addition to the legal penalties and safety issues for hand-held mobile phone use while driving, motorists convicted of motoring offences will face higher insurance premiums.

Last updated on 29 Jan 2019