Wales rise in drivers caught using phones after law change

Woman driving while on a mobile phone Image copyright PA

The number of Welsh motorists caught using their mobile phones went up in March, despite the introduction of harsher penalties.

Drivers face being given six penalty points on their licence rather than three, and a £200 fine instead of £100.

But figures obtained by BBC Radio Wales showed 166 motorists were stopped by police for using their phones in March - up from 137 in February.

The Handsoff campaign said driving and using a phone is a "lethal cocktail".

The changes to the law, introduced on 1 March, mean new drivers caught using a mobile phone face losing their licence, and more experienced drivers can be banned if they get 12 points in three years.

Image copyright Department for Transport
Image caption An image from the Department for Transport's campaign raising awareness of the changes

Lucy Amos, from road safety charity Brake, said: "Mobile phone use behind the wheel is a growing menace and it's time we got tough with those who break the law.

"These drivers are putting their own and other people's lives in grave danger.

"As a charity that supports bereaved and seriously injured road crash victims we know only too well the devastation and heartbreak caused by distracted drivers and have been campaigning on this issue for a number of years.

"We would also like to see a total ban on phone use as even using hands-free increases your likelihood of being involved in a crash. It's the distraction of the conversation that's the main danger."

She added mobile phone use should be as big a taboo as drink driving.

A spokesman for Mobile UK, the trade association for the UK's mobile operators, told the Jason Mohammad programme the UK government had been taking the lead on action to tackle the issue.

"Mobile UK and mobile operators have been supportive of the measures that respective governments have been doing to reduce hand-held mobile phone use in vehicles but government have very much been taking the lead," he said.

BBC Wales also contacted mobile phone networks EE, Vodafone, O2 and Three.

A spokesman for Vodafone said: "Mobiles and driving don't go together... texting while driving is never acceptable."

  • More on the Jason Mohammad programme on BBC Radio Wales from 09:00 BST on Monday

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