More drivers caught using mobile phones

Lady driving while on a mobile phone Did you see the recent 'Police Camera Action' clip where a patrol car was following a driver having an animated conversation on his hand-held phone? He was oblivious not only to the police car behind him, but drove straight across a grassed roundabout, narrowly missing the signs and other traffic.

Recent figures from the Department for Transport show a dramatic increase in the number of drivers convicted for using hand-held mobile phones. Often such convictions go hand-in-hand with a careless driving offence, too. So, like our unwitting TV star, offenders suffer a hefty fine and an uncomfortable number of points on their licence.

Such convictions, which carry a £60 fine and 3 points on your licence, don' t just end with distressing explanations when you get home and a meaningful exchange with the Crown Prosecution Service. You'll find that your insurer wants to know, too. They will almost certainly increase your premiums for the three years you have the points on your license.

"This is for very good reason," says Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance. "Mobile phone use leads to a lack of concentration and poor control of the vehicle, especially if you're trying to negotiate a junction and change gears while holding on to a phone. As a result, the likelihood of having an accident is dramatically increased. In fact, the police routinely check mobile phone records to see if a call was being made at the time of an accident. A mobile often phone proves to be a contributory cause."

Research shows that hands-free phones prove to be a distraction too, and you can be convicted for using a hands-free device if you are not properly in control of your vehicle at the time.

So, if you want to avoid a conviction it's worth considering the following advice:

  • switch your phone off or leave it on silent and record a message to say you'll call back when safe to do so
  • pull into a service area or lay-by to check or make your calls
  • if you are 'hands-free' keep calls brief and call back when it's safer to do so

Follow these tips and you'll stay safe. It will help you keep your car insurance premium in check too.