A concerning study by a well-known motor trade organisation has shown that almost 20% of young drivers admitted to making video calls while at the wheel. Not only is this extremely dangerous, it is also illegal and can lead to prosecution, licence endorsements and hefty fines.
Overall figures from the 3,000 motorists surveyed, indicated that around 8% of drivers use video calling, with increasing numbers among those under 45 and one in five of 17–24-year-olds confessing to the offence.
Not only that, but around ten percent of the youngest group of motorists also admitted to playing mobile phone games while driving, compared to 3% of drivers overall.
It’s no surprise then that around one in three drivers reported severe concern at this trend, with only drink-driving and the poor state of the UK’s roads causing similar or more anxiety among those surveyed; most motorists would like to see more widespread technology introduced to catch any offenders.
Not only can using your mobile phone be hazardous to yourself, but it can also of course lead to severe or fatal accidents due to loss of concentration at the wheel. The worrying upward trend in drivers admitting to breaking the law now sees numbers at their highest since more severe penalties were introduced for offending motorists back in 2016.
Under UK law, use of mobile phones is currently permitted only in emergency, such as a 999 call, or when using hands-free technology such as built-in car phone connectivity or Bluetooth.
Bizarrely, conviction rates are quite low, with the police often unable to confirm suspicious activity and motorists sometimes penalised for losing control or driving unsafely than for their use of phones or sat nav devices.
In some modern new and used cars the connectivity can be better integrated or use voice commands, ensuring that drivers can remain hands free and thus safer.
More driving convictions would also lead to increased individual motor insurance policy costs, a double deterrent. Currently fines are typically up to £200, with a maximum of six penalty points for using a mobile device while travelling.
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Penalties also apply regardless of whether you are moving – you can still be prosecuted for using your mobile phone while sat at the traffic lights or in a queue of traffic.
You can’t call a motor mechanic or breakdown recovery services while travelling unless you’re safely parked up. For more severe offences, motorists can be taken to court where they will face potential four figure penalties and even driving bans.
Offences apply to all classes of driver, from the school run brigade, to those driving under motor trade insurance, like auto technicians for an example.
Despite the worrying rise in cases, it remains the safest course of action to avoid using mobile devices under all but emergency circumstances, and to keep plenty of space around your vehicle, giving you time to react to any erratic or careless driving around you.