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Mobile Fines Fail to Red Light Chatty Drivers – Do We Need to Campaign to the Young Social Networkers?

Most of us sensible road users know that it’s been illegal to use a hand held mobile phone whilst driving since 2003. But a report out today claims that despite hefty fines for offenders, chatty motorists are still not deterred from using their gadgets to catch up with pals by call, text or even browsing with social apps such as Facebook whilst behind the wheel of a moving vehicle.

The £60 on spot fines, court fines of up to £1000 (£2500 for HGV or large vehicle) and 3 points scratched of the driving license, weigh little or nothing compared to the severity of causing injury or death by recklessly using a mobile phone while behind the wheel. But none of these factors seem to concern a number of drivers with the startling revelations gathered from a survey of 43 police forces and members of the public by Swiftcover (the insurance co. advertised by the freaky Iggy Pop puppet.)

Swiftcover found that there’s been a 21% rise in fixed penalty notices from 2009/2010 to 2010/11, with police handing out no less than 171,000 on spot fines this year alone. Looking back at 2004, one year after the ban was introduced, that figure was ‘only’ 74,000. In 2006 the figure has increased to 166,800, proving that the fines and consequences including loss of employment and imprisonment are still being effectively enforced as a punishment but the threat is not as heavily fore-warned, so less adhered to.

The statistics reveal that in the last year 12% of this rise has been down to an 18 to 34 year old demographic, with 5% admitting they use social networking apps on their smartphone while driving. I can’t help but wonder that the reason for such a large percentage being in this age range is perhaps that aforementioned lack of effective promotion. Since 2003, a lot of new young drivers have taken to the roads and with the modern addiction to social tech and messaging platforms such as BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) – Perhaps a new approach with these factors in mind could appeal to the senses of British motorists?

Here’s the approach by the The Motor Accident Commission of Austrailia with a 2009 campaign aimed at motorists aged 17 to 40. These two posters appeared in bus shelters in an appeal to passing motorists:

DirectGov.co.uk includes information on Mobile Phones and Driving and explains the UK fines and disqualifications in full.

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