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One in five parents use mobile phones while driving with children in the car

By Gary Crossing

One in five parents admit to using their mobile phone while driving with their children in the car according to a new survey.

The study, conducted by vehicle leasing company OSV Ltd, found that 21% of over 1,000 parents asked said that they used their phones when behind the wheel.

The survey comes less than a year after the RAC reported seeing official figures that showed a 47% drop in prosecutions (18,000 fewer cases) for the offence between 2009 – 2014, despite Department of Transport findings that at least as many motorists were still using their phones illegally. *see below

The OSV Ltd survey found that dads were found most likely to call or text while driving, with 28% of those surveyed confessing to using their phones, compared to 15% of mums.

According to The Department for Transport, of the 88 deaths caused by distractions in 2012, 17 (19%) were caused by mobile phone use – a higher death rate than any other in-car cause such as children, other passengers or sat-navs.

Debbie Kirkley, Co-Founder of OSV Ltd said: ‘Parents are setting a terrible example to their children when they use their mobile phone while driving.

‘Children are regularly told off for using technology at inappropriate times, or told not to use technology in certain situations. The best way to teach your children that it is dangerous to use a mobile phone when driving is to set a good example and not use your own mobile phone while you are behind the wheel.

‘Taking your eyes off the road to read a text or make a quick call can be fatal and it is the duty of parents to behave responsibly.’

Legislation was introduced in December 2003 making it illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone or other device whilst driving or riding a motorcycle on the road. The same law applies when you are stopped at traffic lights or queueing in traffic. Or, when you are supervising a learner driver or rider.

If you are caught you are most likely to receive a fixed penalty notice (FPN) from the police as there is currently no technology that automatically detects illegal use. According to government figures, between 2011 and 2013, the number of FPNs handed to drivers fell 57% from 123,100 to 52,400.

You could get three penalty points on your licence and a fine of £100. Your case could also go to court and you could be disqualified from driving or riding and get a maximum fine of £1,000. Drivers of buses or goods vehicles could get a maximum fine of £2,500.

* A 2014 Department for Transport study found that 1.6% of all drivers in England – over half a million people – were seen using a mobile phone. This was slightly up from 1.4% in 2009.

Mobile phone use is said to be an increasingly a contributory factor in road accidents in the UK – in 2014, 492 accidents were as a result of a driver using a phone, up 40% on 2010.

The RAC news story in October 2015 quoted 2014 figures provided by Andrew Selous MP on 14 September 2015 in response to parliamentary question from Gareth Thomas MP.

Image: CC0 Public Domain