New research has revealed a fall in the number of drivers stopped for illegally using a handheld phone while driving following the introduction of tougher penalties in March this year.
According to the analysis by RAC, 14,160 drivers were caught for the offence – which now carries a penalty of six points and a £200 fine – between March and May 2017. This is a fall of just over 1,700 from the 15,861 who were stopped between December 2016 and February 2017.
The RAC collected the data after making a Freedom of Information request to UK police forces, with 38 forces responding.
The data comes just months after research for the 2017 RAC Report on Motoring highlighted how a hard core of more than nine million motorists continue to persist using a handheld phone while they are driving. The number admitting to making or receiving calls illegally was at 23%, down from 31% in 2016, but of those questioned about the new penalties 15% - or an estimated 5.3m drivers – said they had not changed their habits at all.
“Following the introduction of tougher penalties for using a handheld phone at the wheel from March, we know police forces are running regular targeted campaigns to catch offenders – so one way of reading these new figures is to say that this activity, at least in some parts of the country, is beginning to yield results,” commented RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams. “But the flipside to this is the possibility that enforcement levels are still much lower than they need to be to stamp out this illegal activity.”
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