Drivers fail to get the message on mobiles

PUNITIVE fines are failing to prevent motorists from using hand-held mobile phones while driving, according to new figures.

The number of offenders is now higher than the year just before harsher penalties were introduced, the statistics revealed.

There were at least 171,000 fixed penalty notices (FPN) for mobile phone offences in 2010-11, according to Freedom of Information requests made to England and Wales police forces by insurance company

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With two of the 43 forces yet to respond, the 2010-11 figure was higher than the 166,800 total in 2006 – the year before the fine was doubled, with the threat of points going on to licences of offending drivers.

The latest total was also more than double the figure of 74,000 in 2004.

Swiftcover reported that Thames Valley Police had an FPN increase of 21 per cent in 2010-11 compared with 2009-10. Other increases included Hampshire and the Yorkshire forces.

The results also showed that 56 drivers were fined for using mobiles while supervising learners in 2010-11 in London alone.

Swiftcover said its research also showed that 5 per cent of drivers admitted using social networking sites while driving within the past year, with this figure rising to 12 per cent for 18-34 year olds.

Robin Reames, chief claims officer at, said: “It’s clear that current measures to stop motorists using their phones while driving simply aren’t working. An irresponsible but substantial minority of motorists are continuing to flout laws and endanger others, all for the sake of a phone call that could be taken at another time.”

Road Safety Minister Mike Penning said: “As a fireman I saw for myself the devastating consequences of road accidents. All too often these were caused by a driver being distracted at the wheel. Don’t risk your life for the sake of a phone call or a text.”