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Mobile Phone Use at the Wheel Jumps Dramatically in England

March 3, 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.”

Source: RAC Foundation

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