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Mobile Phone V Drink Driving

March 22, 2016 by in category Drink Driving, Mobile Phone Offence, News with 0 and 0
texting while driving

Will texting while driving ever become taboo?

Post by Jeanette Miller co-authored by Eleanor Taylor

Drink driving offenders are regularly named and shamed in the press. Many police constabularies have introduced a policy to tweet about offenders as the embarrassment of a conviction is considered to be one of the many deterrents to offending in the first place.

News stories about mothers who drink drive on a school run and high profile personalities who have been caught driving whilst over the drink drive limit feature regularly in the national press.

Older generation drivers (Over 75’s) are considered to be responsible for as much as 25% of the drink driving arrests in the UK. Maybe that’s because of a perception issue amongst the over 75’s who were driving long before drink drive laws and breathalysers were introduced?

To most motorists, drink driving is known to carry significant safety risks but it would seem that an equally dangerous yet socially acceptable practice (to some) is the rising incidence of motorists who text or use a mobile phone while driving.

The next generation of drivers don’t seem deterred by research showing that their smart phone addiction could see them in far more trouble both with the law and with the risk to their own safety and the safety of others. The Institute of advanced motorists revealed that 9% of drivers have admitted taking a “selfie” whilst driving. This figure rose to 19% for drivers aged between 25 and 35 years.

Local police forces have announced this year a crackdown in the use of mobile phones whilst driving and when you consider the potential risks that are involved, it is understandable.

Stopping Distance

Research by Transport Research Laboratory looked at the stopping distance of a motorist whilst under the influence of alcohol and whilst using a phone.

The vehicle’s breaking distance was measured when the vehicle was travelling at 70mph. The normal braking distance at this speed was 102ft (31m.) However, when under the test conditions the breaking speeds were measured as:

  • When the driver has consumed alcohol this was increased to 115ft (35m)
  • When the driver was using a hands free phone this was increased to 128ft (39m) Remember, this one is legal yet us 26 ft/9m longer than the normal braking distance of someone who is not on their phone.
  • When the driver was using a hand held mobile this was increased to 148ft (45m).

Record Accidents

In 2010 – 2012 the fatal accident statistics from the Department of Transport were as follows:

Cause of Road Traffic AccidentNumber of Deaths
Mobile Phone Use17
In car distraction196

In car distraction also includes phone use and so if combining the in car distraction and mobile phone use categories, the number of fatalities caused by phone use is only 10% less than the alcohol related fatalities.


For the use of a mobile phone whilst driving you will currently receive a fixed 3 points and a £100 fine. A government consultation to increase the penalty for using a mobile phone whilst driving to 4 penalty points for non-HGV drivers and 6 points for HGV driver and a fine of £150 has just closed in March 2016. Even if the proposed increases are introduced, however, the penalty seems unlikely to buck this growing trend.

For a drink driving conviction, the minimum penalty is a 12-month mandatory ban alongside a fine of 1 and a half weeks’ wages.

If, however you are involved in a serious collision as a result of your phone use, then this will almost certainly result in a more serious charge of dangerous driving which carries a mandatory 12 month disqualification and extended retest.

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