The high cost of using a mobile phone behind the wheel

Insights / / Bristol, London

Worldwide, it is thought that using a mobile phone whilst driving results in millions of vehicle crashes, with many hundreds of thousands of people injured, often life-changing. The true number is unlikely to be known, as many do not report mobile-phone related crashes to officials for fear of the consequences.

Here in the UK, its reported that around 11 million people have admitted to using mobile phones whilst driving - an average of 1.6 per hour! Research shows seven per cent of drivers - approximately 2.7 million people - have been involved in a crash as a result of not paying attention to the road. How many of these were due to mobile phones?

In 2017, there were 773 casualties, including 43 fatalities and 135 serious injuries, in crashes where a driver using a mobile phone was a contributory factor. Again, the true number is likely to be much greater.

Think! states that drivers using a hands-free or handheld mobile phone are slower at recognising and reacting to hazards:

  • Drivers are 4x more likely to be in a crash if they use their phone.
  • Reaction times are twice as slow when people text and drive, as opposed to when they drink and drive, and this increases to 3x when using a handheld phone.
  • Even careful drivers can be distracted by a call or text – and a split-second lapse in concentration could result in a crash. At 30 mph a car travels 100 feet in 2.3 seconds.

The latest changes to the law mean that penalties are now much more severe. If caught, you can be fined £200 as well as receive six penalty points on your licence. New drivers who passed their tests within two years preceding the offence, can lose their licence entirely. Offenders may also be required to attend Court, which could result in a larger fine of up to £1,000 for car drivers, or £2,500 for bus and lorry drivers. In the worst case scenarios, drivers can receive a full driving ban or even end up in prison.

When can a mobile phone legally be used by a driver?

  • Whilst in a car that is safely parked with its engine switched off.
  • To call 999 or 112 in an emergency when it is unsafe or impractical to stop.
  • To pay for goods with a phone app at a drive-through or paying for a toll, but only while the car is stationary.
  • Use of sat-nav is still permitted, but only where it has already been set-up hands-free before embarking on a journey – and it must be securely mounted in a holder which does not obstruct the driver’s view of the road.

Here at Ince, many of our personal injury claimant lawyers are expert in road traffic incidents. We've devoted large parts of our careers to helping people injured in crashes, whether in a vehicle or as a road user. We actively support Roadpeace, the crash victim charity, in the important work they do to help those bereaved or injured - we host their support group meetings and sit on their legal panel.

Please get in touch if you've been injured or suffered a bereavement caused by a driver distracted by their mobile phone - or indeed through any other careless action - to see how we can help you. Find out more

Please note that this article has been prepared for informational purposes only. The information above is not and should not be taken to be legal advice. You should not take action or omit to take action based on this information.

Hambi Charalambou

Hambi Charalambou Senior Associate

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