Warning as two-thirds of Hartlepool drivers admit to using mobiles at the wheel
A leading accident prevention charity has highlighted the dangers of drivers using their mobile phones at the wheel.
A survey of Hartlepool motorists revealed almost half of those questioned (46%) see someone breaking the law every day.
And almost two thirds of town drivers who admitted checking their phones while behind the wheel had done so while driving at speeds of up to 40mph.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) is warning of the dangers as the Pokémon Go craze sweeps the country with people glued to their phone screens.
Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said: “Research has firmly established that using a mobile phone while driving adversely affects driver performance and increases the risk of crashing.
“Drivers who use a mobile phone, whether hand-held or hands-free, are much less aware of what’s happening on the road around them, fail to maintain proper lane position and react more slowly, taking longer to stop. “Using a mobile phone while driving increases the risk of crashing, and injuring or killing innocent people.
“Sadly, as this survey shows, many people still use a mobile phone behind the wheel despite it being illegal and dangerous to do so.
“They don’t seem to consider the consequences of what could happen.”
The new study claims that eight million UK drivers, including those in Hartlepool, are still using their mobile phone while driving.
Despite the majority of people in Hartlepool (88%) knowing it is illegal, people admitted to texting, surfing the net and checking social media at the wheel.
Some even use dating apps or make an online purchase.
Over a third (35%) of the town’s drivers said they keep their phone somewhere easily accessible in the car, such as next to the handbrake, while one in four (38%) leave it in their pocket or handbag.
Only 20% keep it safely out of reach, such as on the back seat.
More than three quarters of Hartlepool drivers who see others using their mobiles say they are bothered by it with over a quarter (26%) go as far as to react, such as shouting, beeping, or gesturing.
Reassuringly though, almost everyone in the area (92%) want a zero tolerance approach to be implemented.
Michael Jefferies, managing director of law firm Jefferies Solicitors who commissioned the survey, said: “It’s worrying to see that people continue to take risks, despite being aware that using their mobile phone while driving is illegal.
“We see a large number of motoring offence claims involving serious injuries or fatalities – and more recently, mobile phone use is investigated following a collision to determine the cause.
“These types of accidents can easily be avoided if drivers only use their phones when it’s safe to do so.”
Drivers caught face three penalty points on their licence and a £100 fine.