Mobile phone offenders more likely to be given awareness course than points
Data gathered by the RAC suggests that motorists caught illegally using a mobile phone whilst driving are more likely to be given an awareness course than receive penalty points or a fine.
In 2015, as many as 63% of the 85,564 Traffic Offence Reports (TORs) given to drivers caught on their phone by 32 police forces in England and Wales resulted in the offender being sent on a course.
The figures are of particular significance given that new legislation to be implemented in March this year will see the penalty double from three to six penalty points, with the fine doubling from £100 to £200. Motorists will not be given the option of attending a course under the new legislation.
The RAC's new research suggests that, on the whole, motorists support the harsher penalties, with 80% saying they back the move. However, over a third (35%) said the new penalties are still too lenient.
Discussing the figures, RAC road safety spokesman, Pete Williams, said: "These new figures highlight just how popular educational courses have become for police forces and motorists, and suggest that the majority of forces believe that education can be effective at getting offending drivers to think twice about illegally using a phone at the wheel, rather than just prosecution."
Williams noted, however, that the current approach is "sharply" at odds with the way the law is moving.
The motoring organisation launched its #BePhoneSmart campaign this year, advocating greater individual responsibility, stronger enforcement of the law, harsher penalties for offenders and more awareness of the risks involved when using a phone at the wheel.
Do you think education plays a key role in discouraging drivers from illegally using their phones?