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Mobile phones set to be biggest roads killer

Wed, 23 Jul 2014 00:00:00 -0700

MOBILE PHONES are likely to be the number one cause of fatal collisions on the UK’s roads by 2015. The number of drivers making calls, texting and using social media while driving has risen dramatically, which has led Transport

Minister Patrick McLoughlin to propose doubling the number of penalty points added to a driver’s licence if caught using a mobile phone while at the wheel.

Figures from the Department for Transport show there were 378 accidents in 2012 that were directly attributed to mobile phone use, with 17 deaths recorded as a result.

However, expert analysts say the real figure is 213 deaths caused by mobile phone uses. The disparity in the numbers is due to many incidents of mobile phone use being recorded as ‘in-car distraction’.

Simon Marsh, Managing Director of SmartWitness, said: ‘The problem is far more widespread than Department of Transport believes and driver distraction due to mobiles will soon be the biggest single cause of death on the roads. We believe a large number of serious and fatal accidents are wrongly classed as “in-vehicle distraction” when the specific cause of the accident was down to mobile phone use.

‘Lives are being ruined just for the reason that someone wants to send a text message whilst driving. The only message that should be sent is from government to motorists that this is not acceptable.’

Commenting on the Transport Minister’s plan, Julie Townsend, Deputy Chief Executive of road safety charity Brake, said: ‘This is a welcome proposal. An increase in penalty points is a step in the right direction, but it could prove a more effective deterrent if combined with an increase in the fixed penalty to £500 or £1000.’

By Press Association reporters