UK motorists are still addicted to phone use

PROBLEM: Phone use at the wheel is still an issue despite a publicity campaign about tougher penalties.
PROBLEM: Phone use at the wheel is still an issue despite a publicity campaign about tougher penalties.
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More than a fifth of drivers still can’t bear to turn off their phones while driving, according to the AA Charitable Trust.

Amongst younger drivers, almost half are so addicted to their phones that they won’t switch off. The over 65s are more likely to switch off, with just 13 per cent resisting.

The results are part of a new AA-Populus survey of 19,308 drivers which shows that despite of increased penalties, more needs to be done to change attitudes and reduce the number of deaths caused by distracted drivers.

It comes as almost a quarter say mobile phone use is the biggest safety issue facing road users in the UK.

In spite of the tougher penalties, two thirds of drivers think the use of handheld mobile phones at the wheel is actually getting worse. In earlier research, 71 per cent said drivers should take responsibility for their own actions.

Edmund King, director of the AA Charitable Trust, said: “It took time to change mainstream attitudes to drink-driving so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that we still have some way to go to convince drivers to hang up their phones in the car.

“But it’s disappointing to see that, despite high profile coverage of the tragic consequences the offence can have, a fifth still see other drivers using handheld mobile phones on every journey and a further two fifths notice it on most journeys.

“Many drivers even think the use of mobiles in cars is getting worse, rather than better. Drivers need to take responsibility for their own actions and the police need to clampdown on those who don’t.”

The research also revealed that one in five younger drivers are in danger of losing their licences and having to retake the test as they think it is OK to text while stationery in the car at lights or in traffic jams. This still constitutes an offence and for new drivers it would result in them losing their licence with a six-point penalty.

STUDY SHOWS A SHIFT IN ADDITUDES

The AA study into mobile phone use at the wheel does show some attitudes are starting to shift.

Younger drivers in particular show the biggest change, with a nine per cent drop in those who think it is OK to call or text while sitting in traffic. It now stands at 19 percent.

But 2 per cent of younger drivers still think it is OK to send a text while driving and 5 per cent think it is fine to make a hand-held call. Edmund King, director of the AA Charitable Trust, said: “Our lives didn’t end before we owned mobile phones but ironically they could end if we continue using them at the wheel.”

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