Page last updated at 15:12 GMT, Wednesday, 30 April 2008 16:12 UK

Increase in mobile-using drivers

Woman using phone while driving
Using a phone while driving was made illegal in 2003

The number of drivers caught using mobile phones at the wheel has increased by nearly a third, according to Ministry of Justice figures.

Police in England and Wales issued 164,900 fixed penalty notices in 2006 - up 38,100 on the previous year.

Using a hand-held phone while driving became illegal in 2003.

Of 12.7m driving offences dealt with by police or local authority penalty charge notices, the largest group was "obstruction, waiting and parking".

The biggest group dealt with by police action was 2m speeding drivers, representing 40% of all the offences they dealt with. However the figure was eight per cent lower than 2005.

PENALTIES
Driving using hand-held mobile - 60 fine + 3 points on licence
Driving safely whilst using hands-free - no penalty
Driving in distracted fashion whilst using hands-free - 60 fine + 3 points on licence

The total number of driving offences dealt with by police action or penalty notices was 12.7m, down three per cent on the previous year.

More than 2,000 drivers were fined by magistrates for mobile phone use, and one was prosecuted in crown court.

The offence of using a phone at the wheel contributed to an ongoing rise in the number of careless driving offences, which has risen from 86,400 in 2003 to 233,600 in 2006.

The ministry's report said the figures showed a large number of police forces were taking action against phone users.

If you use your phone there is a very good chance that an officer will see you, stop you, and prosecute you for that offence
Chief Constable Steve Green

Having been given powers to deal with mobile phone offences, the police are putting them into action, said Chief Constable Steve Green, head of road policing for ACPO.

"These figures show that we're out there actively prosecuting people who use their phones in the car. If you use your phone there is a very good chance that an officer will see you, stop you, and prosecute you for that offence," he added.

Chief Constable Green added that enforcement was just part of the battle.

He stressed the need for ministers to continue with "education, with publicity, to make sure that people know that if you're using your phone in the car, be it hands-free or hand-held, then you are less capable of handling that car than a drunk".

Talking on a hand-held mobile while driving must become as socially unacceptable as drink-driving has
Norman Baker, Lib Dem spokesman

Norman Baker, Liberal Democrat transport spokesman, fears that the message is not getting through.

He said: "It is alarming that the number of drivers who are using mobile phones while driving has risen, despite the obvious dangers.

"Talking on a hand-held mobile while driving must become as socially unacceptable as drink-driving has," he added.

The statistics also show that the number of penalty charge notices issued by traffic wardens are going up. They issued 7.8 million notices in 2006, 62% of the total.

The annual figures cover the number of motoring offences and breath tests dealt with by the police in England and Wales.


SEE ALSO
Fatal driver 'was using phone'
17 Apr 08 |  Gloucestershire
Mobile crackdown nets 210 drivers
09 Apr 08 |  Cambridgeshire
Text driver jailed for bike death
29 Feb 08 |  Hampshire
Crackdown on mobile phone drivers
27 Feb 08 |  Scotland

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific