Mobile phone rage

Drivers who use hand-held mobile phones are causing a Halloween nightmare of road rage

Drivers who use hand-held mobile phones are causing a Halloween nightmare of road rage among the frustrated motorists who witness their dangerous behaviour.

Their frustrations are highlighted as official figures show a 29% increase in mobile phone related fatal crashes and a 10% increase in all mobile phone related crashes*.

The use of hand-held mobile phones is an epidemic amongst drivers who appear to be addicted to using their phone

Jim Kirkwood, managing director of AA DriveTech

One in ten drivers (10%) say, in the last 12 months, they have been so annoyed about seeing another driver using their hand-held phone at the wheel they have beeped their horn, flashed their lights, gesticulated or shouted at them. Drivers in Yorkshire and Humberside and West Midlands were most likely to say this (13%); those in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were the least (9%).

And a small minority (1%), equating to around 350,000 drivers, have attempted to stop another driver and let them know they are annoyed at seeing them use their hand-held mobile phone. This was highest amongst drivers in the North East (2%). A further six drivers in the North East have actually stopped another driver after seeing them on a hand held mobile phone and had an argument with them.

Young drivers, aged 18-24, are the most likely (2%) to say they or a passenger in their car has taken a photo or video of another driving using a hand-held mobile phone and posted it online.  They are also the most likely to say they react when they see another driver using a hand-held mobile (13%).

The figures, from an AA/Populus survey**, also showed that just one per cent of drivers said they hadn’t seen another driver using a hand –held mobile phone in the last 12 months.

Drivers caught using their hand-held mobile phones face three points on their licence and a fixed penalty fine of £100. If the case goes to court they could be fined up to £1,000.

Many police forces may now offer a driver an educational course instead of points and a fine; if this happens the driver will have to pay for the cost of attending the course, which is usually around £90.

Jim Kirkwood, managing director of AA DriveTech, said: “The use of hand-held mobile phones is an epidemic amongst drivers who appear to be addicted to using their phone whenever and wherever they please.

“Drivers seem to be split into two camps – those who are so against drivers using hand-held mobiles that their blood boils when they see someone doing it and those who just carry on using their phones at the wheel without seemingly caring about the risk.
“While we absolutely don’t suggest drivers take the law into their own hands and confront other drivers, these results do highlight the frustration of many motorists who do recognise the risks if using a mobile phone while driving.

“Drivers who use their hand-held phones are at best risking points, a fine or attending an educational course, but at worst they are risking death and serious injury.”

Drivers convicted of a mobile phone offence (CU80) are also likely to be dealt with more harshly by insurers than those who commit an SP30 speeding offence – even though both attract the same penalty - £100 and three penalty points.

According to AA Insurance research***, a driver with a single SP30 offence to their name can expect to see their premium increase by 9.5%.  However a driver with a CU80 offence is likely to find their premium go up by 21.8%, on average while some insurers will even withdraw cover altogether.

These increased premiums are likely to remain effective for three years.

* Reported Road Casualties Great Britain Annual Report 2013 and 2012:

Contributory factor and severity 2012 2013 Percentage difference
Driver using mobile phone, fatal accidents 17 22 29%
Driver using mobile phone, all accidents 378 422 10%

**Populus interviewed 19, 303 adults aged 18+ on The AA/Populus online panel between 15th – 21st October, 2014. Populus is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

*** Based on premiums quoted from eight insurers on the AA’s panel for a 40-year-old driving a Ford Mondeo in Gloucester. 

(31 October 2014)