Commenting on 2017 data released by the Department of Transport on drivers' use of handheld phones, RAC road safety spokesperson Pete Williams said:
“It’s clearly good news these figures show improved compliance with the law in England and Wales, but worrying they were far higher in Scotland. It is also important to recognise the vast majority of these surveys were carried out months after the penalty for using a handheld mobile phone at the wheel was increased. It stands to reason the ‘fear factor’ of the tougher penalties would be greater in the time immediately after they were introduced.
“Anecdotally, we still see too many drivers either talking on their handheld phones or interacting with them. And perhaps more worryingly, our own research with drivers suggests the problem has far from gone away. As a result we suspect many drivers will be very sceptical of these findings as they don’t reflect what they see on a daily basis.
“As this survey is only carried out every two years we also fear many drivers who might have changed their ways initially due to the increased penalty may have fallen back into their old ways. This isn’t helped by the decline in the number of roads police officers as some drivers aren’t as afraid of being caught breaking motoring laws as they once were.
“It’s also important to remember just how tricky it can be to detect someone using a phone illegally. While some will blatantly drive and hold their phone to their ear, others will be a lot more covert or will only use a handheld phone very briefly – activities which are still dangerous and against the law.”