RAC finds 'worrying' increase in drivers' phone use


More drivers are admitting using mobile phones at the wheel, while motorists' top concern is the poor condition of local roads, the RAC has found.

The 2016 RAC Report on Motoring, based on a major survey of more than 1,700 motorists around the UK, identified a ‘significant increase’ in the number of motorists who are worried about other drivers using handheld mobile phones.

More drivers are admitting using phones at the wheel

More than two-fifths of those questioned (41%) said this was one of their biggest concerns, up from 34% last year.

In addition, 31% of drivers admitted to having used a handheld phone to make or receive calls while driving at some point in the past 12 months, up from 8% since 2014. The RAC found that 20% think it is safe to text or check social media while they are sitting in stationary traffic, despite this being against the law.

David Davies, executive director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, told Transport Network the apparent increase in phone use was ‘worrying’. He said: ‘The Government is proposing to increase the fines, but without increases in police resources, that won’t necessarily be effective.’

He added: ‘I don’t think there is a solution to it; there are technical solutions [such as phone apps that disable phones at a certain speed] but I don’t think people want them.’ He suggested that the long-term solution would be autonomous vehicles.

The issue most commonly identified by motorists as their top concern was the state and maintenance of local roads, cited by 14% of drivers.

The RAC found strong support for Government funding to be ring-fenced for local road maintenance, with 32% of motorists saying this should be the UK’s top transport investment priority.

The RAC found only 7% of drivers saying fuel prices are their top concern this year, following falls in petrol and diesel prices, but found that there has been little change in overall expenditure on fuel.

More motorists complained of higher congestion levels. Seven out of 10 motorists said the time taken to complete local journeys is becoming harder to predict, while a very similar proportion (70%) say the same about trips on major roads.

The RAC also found what it called ‘a worrying trend’ of more motorists admitting to exceeding speed limits on country roads and in the growing number of urban 20mph zones.

A significant percentage (34%) of motorists have serious concerns about the air quality where they live, the report says.


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