27/02/2008

Most People Believe Mobile Phone Use Affects Driving

Three quarters of people believe that drivers who use their mobile phones are needlessly risking their own, and other people's, safety, research published by the government has revealed.

A YouGov poll carried out for the Department for Transport found that 60% of people said they felt 'annoyed' when they saw a motorist using a mobile phone. Older people were more likely to think that using a mobile phone while driving is acceptable, with 84% of people aged 55 and over saying that it was 'totally unacceptable', compared to 49% of 18-24-year-olds.

Women were also more likely to agree that using mobile phones while driving risked people's safety, with 77% agreeing with that statement, compared to 69% of men.

The study also found that 90% of people believe that using a mobile phone while driving had a negative impact on a motorist's skills.

The research was published to coincide with the first anniversary of the introduction of the three penalty point punishment for drivers caught using a hand-held mobile and an increase in the fine, from £30 to £60.

To mark the first anniversary of the introduction of the new penalty, a £1.5 million THINK! campaign to highlight the dangers of using a mobile phone when driving was launched on February 1. It features TV advertising, a new radio advert and a new internet viral game.

Road Safety Minister Jim Fitzpatrick said: "It's quite simple - driving and mobile phones don't mix. Using a mobile behind the wheel makes you four times more likely to have a crash and a phone call just isn't worth that risk.

"That is why we increased the penalty for illegally using a mobile when driving to three penalty points and a £60 fine. One year on, I am delighted to see that the vast majority of people recognise the dangers of using a mobile when driving.

"However, too many people are still putting themselves and others in danger for the sake of a phone call. I hope the first anniversary of the tougher penalties for mobile phone use will remind all drivers to switch off before they drive off or go to voicemail and listen to their messages later."

However, an RAC survey revealed that 45% of motorists use their mobile phone to send text messages while driving. Liberal Democrat transport spokesperson Norman Baker said: "It's extremely worrying that many young drivers are so dependent on their mobile phones that they're unwilling to put them down even while driving.

"The penalties for using a mobile phone while driving have finally been toughened up, but with so many motorists still texting on the move, it's clear that better enforcement is needed."

(KMcA)


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