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Police punish 40% fewer drivers for using mobile phones at the wheel

Friday, April 17th 2015 by Dean Reilly

The number of people being punished for using their mobile phone while driving has fallen by 40% compared to 2010-14, police figures have shown.

Year-on-year fines and charges have also fallen, with the number of drivers receiving penalty points dropping by 24%% when compared to 2014.

The figures, requested by the BBC and obtained under a Freedom of Information request, revealed that there were 72,753 fixed penalty notices issued in 2014, down from 95,941 in 2013.

A total of 122,752 fixed penalty notices issued by the same police forces in 2010.

Cable.co.uk previously reported that campaigners were becoming increasingly concerned about the link between smartphone use and car accidents.

Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said that a rise in the number of deaths and injuries caused by drivers being distracted by mobile phones was “very worrying”.

He added: “It also shows the need for more enforcement to create a stronger deterrent.

“While our main focus is educating drivers and enforcement, we are also concerned that new technologies are being rolled out that enable drivers to do more and more things with their phones at the wheel, including different ways to engage with the phone hands-free.

“We do not support hands-free use of phones while driving, because research has shown that this is just as dangerous as using a hand-held phone.”

'Limit phone use'

Philip Goose, senior community engagement officer at road safety charity Brake, said that the group was concerned about the use of in car technology, and would welcome any steps that would limit their use.

However, Mr Goose added, the ultimate power to reduce accidents lies with the driver.

He said: “Individuals already have the power to limit phone use while driving without having to wait for technological developments – we call on all drivers to simply put their phones out of sight while driving and keep their full attention on the wheel.”

Both RoSPA and Brake also called for more careful monitoring and stringent regulation of emerging in-car wi-fi technology to make sure it doesn’t also contribute to accidents.

Their comments came after EE launched the Buzzard 2 in-car wi-fi device which generates a mobile broadband hotspot for use while on the move.

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