Drivers flout mobile phone laws05 Feb 2010


There has been a big rise in the number of motorists in England using hand-held mobile phones behind the wheel – despite research which shows such behaviour severely impairs reactions times.

According to the Department for Transport, the proportion of car drivers using hand-held mobiles increased from 1.1 % to 1.4 % – a 27% leap – between September 2008 and November 2009. For van and lorry drivers the figure was 2.6%, up from 2.2% – a rise of 18%.

Commenting on the findings, the director of the RAC Foundation Professor Stephen Glaister, said:

“This is very worrying. We know that drivers’ reaction times slow by almost half when they are having a chat on their mobiles. This is even worse than texting whilst driving – bad enough in itself – which our research has shown reduces reactions by a third. It has been illegal to use a hand-held phone at the wheel since December 2003 and yet we have still seen this increase.

“It seems a small, but growing, minority of drivers choose to flout the law. Yet their actions can have tragic consequences. In 2008 the use of a mobile phone was a contributory factor in 16 fatal road accidents and many more where people were seriously injured.

“Police must be given the resources to tackle this menace and drivers persuaded that what they are doing is potentially lethal.”

Philip Gomm – Head of External Communications, RAC Foundation – 020 7747 3486

Notes to editors:

The RAC Foundation is an independent motoring charity.

The DfT figures on mobile phone use behind the wheel can be found here.

In 2008 the RAC Foundation research found that texting whilst driving increases reaction times by 33%.
Other research suggests the use of hand-held mobile phones increases reaction times by 45.9% (Burns et al, 2002)