One-In-Three Motorists Still Use Handheld Mobiles

  • More than 10 million motorists putting themselves and others in danger as a result
  • Recent Department for Transport estimate way too low
  • What Car? calls for free hands-free equipment with every phone sold

Millions of motorists are flouting driving laws and putting themselves and others in danger, a whatcar.com survey has found.

Department for Transport figures suggest that just 1.5% of drivers use their mobile phone while driving - whatcar.com’s survey of over 1000 motorists puts the figure nearly 22 times higher.

In all 24% said they still used a handheld for quick calls, 8.6% admitted they used one all of the time and a further 8.8% said they still used a phone when driving but intend to stop doing so.

Although 58.6% of motorists claim they no longer use a handheld phone at the wheel, the whatcar.com survey still shows a staggering 10 million drivers could be putting themselves and others in danger. Studies show they're four times as likely to be involved in an accident.

What Car? group editor Steve Fowler said: 'Our survey proves handheld mobile phone use at the wheel is a far more widespread problem than the DfT thinks.

'It doesn't matter if you're only making a quick call - handheld phones are dangerously distracting. We'd like to see a hands-free kit provided with every new phone sold by law, and more traffic police on the roads to enforce mobile phone laws, which will eventually put penalty points on licences.'

Whatcar.com has teamed up with the Carphone Warehouse, the largest mobile phone retailer in the UK, to offer a 10% discount on hands-free equipment to encourage motorists to use their mobiles more responsibly. A voucher for the discount is available on whatcar.com and www.thecarphonewarehouse.com and can be redeemed at any of its 600 UK stores until Christmas 2005.

The DfT's 'snapshot' survey caught just 1.5% of the 100,000 motorists redhanded last April.

Responding to whatcar.com's survey, road safety minister Stephen Ladyman said: 'I'm pleased that the results still show that drivers who think it's acceptable to use their phones without stopping are in the minority.

'We stand by our survey work as an objective way to monitor use. We'll also be monitoring annual prosecution figures.'

So far the only prosecution figure available is for December 2003 when 1888 fixed penalty fines were imposed. The Home Office will release figures for 2004 in early 2006.

Mary Williams OBE, chief executive of road safety charity Brake, said: 'It is appalling that so many drivers put lives at risk by driving while using their mobile phones. Driving is the most dangerous thing that most of us do on a daily basis, and it requires our full attention.

'It's essential that the penalty for using a phone while driving is increased significantly - three penalty points and a £60 fine is simply not enough to deter some drivers. Brake is also calling for a complete ban on using mobiles while driving - many drivers think using a hands-free is a safe option, but research clearly shows that it increases the risk of crashing several times over.'

Graham Stapleton Managing Director of In Car Solutions at The Carphone Warehouse said: 'We're delighted to join forces with What Car? in this campaign. We believe it is vital that drivers use hands-free car kits if they need to make a call; not only for their safety, but for the safety of all others. The 10% discount on all hands-free car kits we are offering should be a good incentive for UK motorists to make this necessary change.'

4 November 2005 Staff
 

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