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hand held mobile phone driving deterrrents

How to stop drivers using hand-held mobiles

Destroying distracted drivers' phones would be more of a deterrent than current penalties according to an AA poll

6 September 2018

Eight out of 10 drivers (80%)* say that giving police powers to seize and destroy the phones of those using a hand-held mobile whilst driving would be a better deterrent than current penalties, according to an AA-Populus survey.

The survey of more than 20,000 drivers also found that

  • Seven out of 10 drivers (71%) believed that allowing officers to confiscate the phone for a month would be more of a deterrent
  • Similarly, seven out of 10 (70%) think that locking the user out of the phone for a month would be a better deterrent
  • Three fifths of drivers said that not having access to the phone for a week either through confiscation (63%) or locked access (61%) would deter drivers more

Mobile phones

Naming and shaming

Half of drivers (52%) said that naming and shaming offenders by texting all their contacts that they had been caught using their phone behind the wheel would be better deterrent.

In March 2017, the penalty and fine for using a mobile phone behind the wheel doubled after offenders came under pressure from the AA. Since the change the AA discovered the number of offenders had reduced by half during the 12 months following the change.

What did the survey ask?

For using a mobile phone while driving, which of the following would be a more effective deterrent than the current £200 fine and six penalty points?

  • Police powers to seize and destroy mobile at roadside (80%)
  • Police powers to confiscate phone for a month (71%)
  • Police powers to lock access to phone for a month (70%)
  • Police powers to confiscate phone for a week (63%)
  • Police powers to lock access to the phone for a week (61%)
  • Police powers to name and shame by texting contacts that they have been caught (52%)

Edmund King, AA president, said: “The police do have powers to seize cars driven without insurance and it seems a majority of drivers think similar policies towards using hand-held phones would be effective.

“The survey result just goes to show the strength of public opinion that using your phone behind the wheel is socially unacceptable and should be treated severely.

The survey result just goes to show the strength of public opinion that using your phone behind the wheel is socially unacceptable and should be treated severely
Edmund King, president of the AA

“Doubling the fine and points seems to have encouraged some drivers to leave their phones alone.

“Concerted police targeting and campaigns will help to further change attitudes and behaviour, but it does take time. 

“Phones have become indispensable to the lives of millions which increases the temptation for many drivers to look at the screen rather than the road ahead.

“Our previous campaign and advertisement actually showed that you are twice as likely to crash texting as you drinking. Most people wouldn’t think of drink driving and the same should apply to using a hand held mobile phone on the move. Our advice is for drivers to convert their glovebox into a phone box so that the phone is out of sight and out of mind.”


* Populus received 20,115 responses from AA members to its online poll between the 17 and 24 July 2018.

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