Phone use behind the wheel remains a driving issue.

According to new research from the RAC more drivers are admitting to the illegal habit.

Hang up

According to The RAC, a quarter (25%) of drivers admit to making or receiving voice calls illegally while driving. Furthermore, this figure rises to 49% of those aged 17 to 24.

Of even more concern is the fact that almost a third (30%) of under-25s admitted to video calling while driving. This is up from 17% in 2022.

This research coincides with the anniversary of  the Government introducing a law making the the use of a handheld phone behind the wheel an endorsable offence.

It was introduced 17 years ago, but the latest survey shows the problem is not rescinding.

Phone numbers

The use of handheld devices while behind the wheel was first banned in 2003, before the tougher punishment was introduced.

In 2007, the penalty for using a mobile phone illegally while driving was increased to £60 and three points in 2007.

It was increased to a £100 fine in 2013, before being hiked further to six points and a £200 fine in 2017.

The Government changed the law to cover any use of a handheld phone while driving in 2022.

Engaged tones

RAC road safety spokesman Rod Dennis believes the findings are a real concern, and show that government has failed to make inroads with the problem.

“Despite the penalties having since doubled to six penalty points and a £200 fine seven years ago, it’s clear far too many drivers are still prepared to put lives at risk by engaging in this dangerous practice.”

The RAC suspects that the main reason for this is the lack of enforcement which means there is little fear of being caught.

Police trials of new cameras, are being expanded and may provide more effective deterrents.

This new type of technology captures footage of passing motorists. The images are processed using artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse whether the motorists could be using a handheld mobile phone or drivers may be without a seat belt.

These images are then passed to police for consideration on any action to be taken.

Technical solutions

“As it’s impossible to have a police officer on every street corner, we urge more police forces to begin trialling camera-based technology that can automatically detect drivers breaking the law in this way,” adds Dennis.

“We know from our research that drivers are broadly supportive of cameras being used for this purpose.”

“Without the dial being turned up on enforcement, there’s every chance we will never bring about the change needed to curb this behaviour.

“Ultimately, we have to make using a handheld phone at the wheel as socially unacceptable as drink-driving.”