A couple of months ago the government asked the police to get tougher on drivers using mobile phones, and this is the week it’s happening.
Before this week over half a million drivers had been prosecuted for using a handset or being otherwise distracted at the wheel and drivers talking on the phone were responsible for 548 casualties including 17 deaths.
The head of roads policing at the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) said “As technology has advanced we’ve seen a change in the behaviour of some drivers who are allowing themselves to become distracted and putting themselves and others at risk”
Research at Newcastle University shows that hands-free devices are just as dangerous because it the concentration required to have a conversation that causes driver distraction. Drivers using mobiles divert concentration away from the road and put others at risk.. 80% of offenders are male (which surprises me as I regularly see women drivers on their phones and they are more attached to them than men).
Transport Research Laboratory studies show that reaction times among drivers using hands-free sets were 30% slower than driving with a blood alcohol level equal to the drink-drive limit and 50% slower than driving sober.
Although there have been calls to ban hands-free sets the government has no plans at present but police can stop and arrest anyone they believe is not in charge of their vehicle for whatever reason.
The new penalties for using a hand-held mobile phone are a fine of £100 and 3 penalty points.