Survey reveals that third of drivers support police seizing mobile phones from offenders

Chinese woman using mobile phone while driving a car

A third of experienced drivers favour taking away mobile phones from drivers who are found using them while operating a vehicle, according a recent IAM RoadSmart survey.

In fact, if motorists were discovered using their phones while driving, 34% of UK drivers would be in favour of the police seizing the driver’s phone.

A third of respondents to a February 2024 survey of 2,437 IAM RoadSmart members said they were in favour of police seizing mobile phones for a certain period of time.

Only 27% of respondents, meanwhile, think that the criminal should pay a fine in order to regain their phone.

This would be in addition to the current £200 fine and six points on one’s licence.

Additionally, 7% of respondents favour police seizure of mobile devices but think that violators shouldn’t have to pay to regain their phones.

Remarkably, 56% of respondents said they weren’t “convinced” that taking a mobile phone was appropriate.

The poll produced some intriguing findings on the current state of the penalties meted out to drivers who use mobile phones while operating a vehicle.

Actually, 51% of respondents thought the existing penalty was appropriate, while 42% thought the sanctions were too low.

Just 4% of respondents said that perpetrators apprehended by the police should face unduly severe penalties.

An immediate six-month driving suspension and an unlimited fine were thought to be the most preferred alternatives by 34% of those who thought the current penalties were “too lenient.”

20% of respondents, however, thought there ought to be a £1,000 fine and six licence points.

The survey also examined how mobile device usage is currently affecting driving in the area.

Driver distraction, including talking and texting while operating a vehicle, is seen by nearly two-thirds of drivers (62%) as a greater issue than it was three years ago.

Actually, 80% of drivers believe that the unlawful phone use of others endangers their own safety.

The importance of traffic police was also examined by the respondents, who ranked driving while using a mobile phone as the third most important factor for road safety, according to 24% of them.

After the charity filed a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, the DVLA found that 34,738 drivers had their licences endorsed with a CU80 for using a handheld mobile phone while driving in 2022.

Following the release of the survey results, IAM RoadSmart Director of Policy and Standards Nicholas Lyes said: “Using a handheld mobile phone at the wheel is illegal and dangerous and many drivers want police forces to prioritise enforcement against these offenders. Moreover, the idea of confiscation of phones and paying an additional fine for its return has the backing of a surprisingly sizeable number of drivers.

“While we are never going to see a cop on every corner, camera technology is already being trialled in some parts of the country and could be rolled out nationally subject to Home Office type approval and the final trial findings.

“We have seen the tragic consequences of drivers using their phones at the wheel in high-profile cases such as that on the M66 where a young driver filmed himself travelling at catastrophic speeds resulting in the death of Frankie Jules-Hough and her unborn child.

“The Government should review the fine level alongside type-approving new camera technology to improve detection. These actions should be supported by a renewed high-profile education campaign highlighting the dangers of using a mobile phone while driving and consider the merits of offering more training courses. We also think social media companies have a responsibility to review policies and remove content as soon as possible when drivers post videos of themselves breaking the law.

“Ultimately, we need to break the cycle of phone addition once drivers get behind the wheel as it is a serious distraction that can have tragic results.”

1 thought on “Survey reveals that third of drivers support police seizing mobile phones from offenders”

  1. As a driving instructor and member of the IAM I witness mobile phone use behind the wheel constantly multiple times a day. The consequences are not harsh enough and the good majority of incidents are blatant and these individuals simply have no respect for the law or any body else on the road. If it were easier to report these incidents via dash cam footage maybe more people would think twice or could be dealt with appropriately.

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