• Drivers using phones are more annoying than tailgating, failing to indicate or dangerous overtaking
  • Convictions for mobile use down across the country, except in three regions: Yorkshire, North East and East Midlands

The study for Kwik Fit, the UK’s leading automotive servicing and repair company, found that other motorists using a mobile phone handset to talk, text or use social media is in the top five most annoying habits for 56% of drivers.  This is more than tailgating (50%), failing to indicate (49%) and dangerous overtaking (38%)1.

This data is revealed as the government begins a review into the existing law on mobile phone use when driving, in order to close loopholes which some motorists have used to escape prosecution2.   The fact that people view other drivers’ use of mobiles as their biggest motoring annoyance clearly indicates the widespread nature of the problem.  However, there has been a national decrease in the number of motorists receiving penalty points for using a mobile phone behind the wheel.

New figures obtained by Kwik Fit through a Freedom of Information request show that the number of drivers committing a CU80 offence, defined as a ‘breach of requirements as to control of the vehicle, such as using a mobile phone’, fell by 19% nationally between 2017 and 2018.

However, Kwik Fit’s analysis of the DVLA data reveals some stark differences in the trends across the regions.  The biggest percentage drop was in London, where the number of drivers convicted fell by 32.3%, followed by the South East and the North West, which saw decreases of 22.5% and 18.9% respectively.

In contrast to the national trend, in Yorkshire the number of drivers receiving penalty points for committing a CU80 offence jumped by 22.6% between 2017 and 2018, with rises of 8.0% in the North East and 5.7% in the East Midlands over the same period. Over 1,900 Yorkshire drivers received penalty points for a CU80 offence last year, with big increases in the neighbouring areas of Leeds (60% rise), Bradford (52%), Wakefield (77%) and Kirklees – the borough around Huddersfield (82%).

This area is covered by West Yorkshire Police, which has used techniques such as spotting drivers from the top deck of double decker buses or using an unmarked HGV to give a vantage point to look down into vehicles3.

Table 1: The most annoying habits made by other drivers

Habit in other motorists Proportion of drivers selecting it in their top five annoying habits
Using a mobile phone handset to talk / text

or use social media

Tailgating 50%
Failing to indicate 49%
Dangerous overtaking 38%
Changing lane with indicating 33%
Last minute braking 24%
Middle lane cruising / hogging 24%
Speeding 23%
Hesitant driving 18%
Jumping lights 18%

Source: Research for Kwik Fit, 2019

Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit, said: “The research clearly shows that actions of other drivers which annoy us the most are those which put people’s safety at risk on the road.  There is no excuse for using a handheld mobile phone when driving, whether it’s for a call, texting or checking social media. The fact that the number of drivers receiving penalty points for using a mobile when driving has fallen should not make us complacent, and if the government does change the law to close loopholes we are likely to see those figures rocket back up again, especially if police forces continue to use innovative techniques to catch drivers breaking the law.

“It’s vital for road safety that we make using the phone when driving as socially unacceptable as drinking and driving.  Until we have fully autonomous vehicles, anything which diverts a driver’s attention from the road is a risk to their safety and those of the road users around them.”

Table 2: Number of drivers issued with penalty points for CU80 offence

Region Number of drivers YOY change
2017 2018
East Midlands 1965 2077 5.7%
East of England 5890 5172 -12.2%
London 9021 6109 -32.3%
North East 696 752 8.0%
North West 2711 2198 -18.9%
Scotland 2920 2435 -16.6%
South East 5730 4438 -22.5%
South West 2265 2116 -6.6%
Wales 1560 1414 -9.4%
West Midlands 3320 2921 -12.0%
Yorkshire and The Humber 1560 1912 22.6%
Region unknown 949 900 -5.2%
GB Total 38587 32444 -15.9%

Source: Freedom of Information request to DVLA, 2019

For the latest news and updates from Kwik Fit, customers can also follow the company on Twitter at @kwik_fit.