Road Safety News

Mobile phone prosecutions ‘fall off a cliff’: RAC

Thursday 27th October 2016

The number of fixed penalty notices (FPNs) issued to motorists for using a handheld mobile phone while driving has ‘fallen off a cliff’, according to the RAC.

The RAC made the claim on the back of new Home Office figures which show that the number of FPNs issued for a wide range of offences including careless driving, jumping traffic lights and using a mobile phone have all declined significantly.

The RAC says this is a consequence of ‘scant police resources being focused elsewhere’.

In contrast to other offences, the number of FPNs issued for speeding has risen by 6%, as a result of ‘speed cameras employed on a grand scale to catch offenders and automatically issue notices’, according to the RAC.

The Home Office data shows that between 2014 and 2015, police forces in England and Wales issued 43% fewer notices for mobile phone offences. Looking at the longer term, the 2015 figure of 16,900 represents a ‘staggering’ 86% fall since 2011 when 123,100 notices were issued.

In September, the Government announced that the penalty for using a hand held mobile phone while driving is to double from three points and a £100 fine to six points and a £200 fine. However, the RAC says that drivers no longer fear punishment for the offence.

Pete Williams,  RAC road safety spokesman, said: “Figures released today (27 Oct) by the Home Office are a stark indication that the sharp fall in the number of dedicated roads policing officers in England and Wales has led to a 29% fall in the number of fixed penalty notices for key motoring offences in the five years to 2015.

“The number of FPNs issued for handheld mobile phone use has fallen by 86% between 2011 and 2015, the number given for neglecting traffic and pedestrian lights has dropped by 65%, and for parking offences has declined by 67% in the same period.

“The evidence is plain to see - the reduction in dedicated roads policing officers has been matched by a sharp fall in the number of penalty notices which is sending the message to many drivers that they unlikely to be caught for these motoring offences which rely on the physical presence of an officer to be detected and caught.”




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Did you not see the news yesterday Terry about the lorry driver jailed who was filmed on his own camera, using his 'phone whilst driving on the Motorway, taking his eyes off the road and then crashing causing several fatalities - seems like good evidence of a 'real accident cause' to me.

Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (2) | Disagree (0)

So all these thousands of offences are going undetected, so why has the accident rate not risen by the same amount? Seems to indicate that in most cases they were just pointless prosecutions. Is it because all the hysteria about these offences has side-lined us from the real accident causes?
Terry Hudson, Kent

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Do the RAC and one or two commentators think that spotting a driver on the 'phone is such a specialised skill, that somehow only a 'dedicated traffic police officer' can do it? Whatever, I think the psychology of the driver committing ofences is not so much how many police there are around (I don't think it even enters their head) but I think they genuinely believe that once they are cocooned in their own private space i.e. their vehicle, they somehow cannot be seen by the outside world. For instance, you'd think that drivers on 6 or 9 points must have got the message that they CAN be seen and prosecuted for offences and yet they keep going until they get themselves banned - I think some can't help themselves and should have no place on the highway.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (3) | Disagree (0)

I agree with Hugh, it's not the loss of just over 1000 dedicated police traffic officers that has contributed to the unlawfulness. Something that we are now suffering, and we are suffering. nNt as Hugh suggests as a result of people obeying the law because so often we see it ourselves that they are not.

What we are suffering from is actually a loss of nearly 20.000 police officers over the whole of the country. Officers not just in the traffic departments but out there on the streets seeing offences being committed and being in a situation that they can deal with. That is the deterrent that we have lost. Nearly 20.000 police, not 1000.
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (21) | Disagree (0)

Hugh, your faith in human nature is admirable. As the likelihood of getting caught lessens, then my expectation for road safety generally is that more people will think they can "get away" with an offence - and many will do just that. So many people know to do better but simply just don't do it.
Pat, Wales

Agree (16) | Disagree (1)

It is a disgrace. We all know that the number of drivers texting at the wheel & talking on their phones is now at an all time high. I am a driving instructor & try to instil in
my customers how dangerous this is - I'm fighting a losing battle when at every queue for lights there are several drivers showing my students that I'm wrong! Even some Driving Instructors are using their phones whilst teaching - this is also dangerous and illegal.
Steve Tonge

Agree (19) | Disagree (1)

Another way the RAC could have looked at it (but with less sensationalism admittedly), is that there are less offences being committed, leading - logically - to less prosecutions.

Why automatically relate the figures it to the 'decline in decicated traffic police officers' (an old favourite on the news feed)? For one thing, referring to the penultimate paragraph, parking tickets haven't been issued by the police (traffic or not) for a long time anyway - it's been the Councils for a while. Civil parking enforcement comes in for a lot of stick in the media and yet the RAC seem to be bemoaning the fact that fewer tickets are being issued.

My sympathies do however go out to those motorists who have fallen off a cliff whilst driving and using their phone.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (7) | Disagree (22)