Nearly 90% of AA members support increased fines and penalty points for using a handheld mobile phone while driving, according to an AA Populus poll of 26,463 drivers.
The AA has long argued that stricter penalties, combined with an information campaign and better enforcement, is required to address the epidemic of phone use at the wheel. Eight out of 10 say it is unacceptable to make a call or send a text using a handheld mobile in stationery traffic.
Edmund King OBE, AA president, said: “Driving while using a phone is a dangerous habit which has only got worse over the last couple of years. The current fines and points are not enough of a deterrent. We need to double the fines and double the penalty points to have a real impact.
“If this is backed up with more Think! information campaigns, and more cops in cars, it can really start to change these dangerous behaviours. This is a behavioural issue and we need a radical campaign to end it.
“It is similar to dangerous habits diminished in the 70s and 80s with the concerted drink driving and seatbelt campaigns. Only a shift in attitude, harsher penalties and better enforcement will improve matters. If drivers can’t hang up their phones, they should hang up their car keys.
”Once drivers realise there is a real danger of losing their licence, they are much more likely to quit their addiction of using the phone behind the wheel.”
The AA also believes that the proceeds of any big increase in the fine should be ring-fenced for advertising to ram home a message that driving while holding a mobile phone is as anti-social a behaviour as drink-driving.
Increasing the number of points will bring a stark warning to new drivers who can lose their licence by gaining six penalty points in their first two years of driving. The AA’s age profiling clearly shows that younger drivers are much more likely to pick up their phone whilst driving.
Age profiling of 25,208 respondents that said they picked up a mobile phone while driving;
King concluded: “We trust the Government will listen to the views of our members and commence a crackdown on those who text and tweet on the move.”