Open and Transparent Quality Mark 2016/17 and 2017/18

PCC concerned about increase in young drivers using mobile phones

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall says she is deeply concerned about a huge rise in the number of drivers who admit to using a handheld mobile phone at the wheel.

Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez has had an Honest Truth safety message about distraction driving placed on her office van. Pictured L-R: Annette Lloyd CEO The Honest Truth, Robin Barlow Trustee The Honest Truth and PCC Alison Hernandez.

 

The RAC study released today (Thursday, March 20) reports that nearly half of 25 to 34 year olds say they make or receive calls while driving and the effect of penalties introduced in 2017 had a ‘fading impact’.

Distraction caused by mobile phone use has been linked to a number of serious accidents in the two counties in recent years. A recent campaign supported by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner aims to tackle distraction driving as one of the key causes of collisions after a poll of Devon and Cornwall residents showed it was their number one road safety concern.

The RAC Report on Motoring showed that a quarter of drivers (25%) – the equivalent of £10m people – admitted to illegally making or receiving calls while driving compared to 24% in 2017.

There was a dramatic rise in the proportion of younger-age drivers admitting to using a phone illegally in 2018. In the 25 to 34 age group 47% said they made or received calls while driving – up 7% on 2017 and compared to just 25% of drivers in all age groups. 

And, it is not just phone calls that are the problem – more than a third of drivers aged 25 to 34 (36%) send texts, social media posts or emails while driving, compared to just 16% of drivers in all age groups.

Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez last week unveiled a campaign to warn drivers of the dangers of dangerous driving habits in partnership with the Honest Truth charity and haulier Evans Transport. The OPCC also works with Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, which takes its hard-hitting Learn 2 Live education campaign to young people across the two counties.

“I am saddened, but unfortunately not surprised, to hear that the effects of increasing penalties for being caught using a mobile phone appear to be waning,” Alison said.

“I think nationally we need to do more to educate young people about the dangers of distraction driving. It puts them, their passengers and others at huge risk. I am delighted that Evans has come on board to help us make our roads safer and I would love to work in partnership with other companies who would like to do their bit.”

The Honest Truth is a Devon based national charity that engages driving instructors in having safety conversations with trainee drivers. The campaign’s safety messages have been placed on the back of Evans vehicles which will be seen on the North Devon link Road, where several fatal collisions have occurred in recent years. The OPCC has paid for the messages to be applied to Evans vehicles and the company has not charged for the space on its vehicles.

In 2017 the penalty for using a handheld mobile phone doubled to a £200 fine and six penalty points in recognition of the harm caused by the practice.

Learn 2 Live is used throughout Devon and several events are held throughout the year. Find out more information about these events and book online via the Learn 2 Live website learn-2-live.org.uk.