After a fall in the proportion of drivers admitting to using a handheld phone while driving in 2017 following the introduction of tougher penalties, RAC figures show the problem is actually worsening – and illegal use among some groups has rocketed.
Across all age groups, a quarter (25%) of drivers – the equivalent of 10m people – admit to illegally making or receiving calls while driving, compared to 24% in 2017. Frighteningly though, research for RAC Report on Motoring – the most comprehensive study of drivers’ handheld mobile phone use in the UK – revealed dramatic rises in the proportion of younger working-age drivers admitting to using a phone illegally in 2018.
Drivers in the 25 to 34 and 35 to 44 age groups admit to a range of dangerous activities involving a handheld phone, with nearly half in the younger age group (47%) saying they make or receive calls while driving – up 7% on 2017, and compared to just 25% of drivers in all age groups.
This rises to a huge 57% among drivers who say they do this while stationary but with the engine running. It is a similar picture among those aged 35 to 44, with 39% admitting to making or receiving calls while driving, and 54% saying they do so while stationary.
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. Twenty-nine per cent of drivers in the 35-44 age group admit to doing this while driving, up a huge 10% on 2017 and back to the same level as in 2016.