Monday 06 February 2017, By Autovolo
Motorists who are caught using their mobile phone behind the wheel are more likely to be sent on a driver awareness car rather than receive penalty points and a fine, new data has shown.
Information compiled by the RAC showed that the 32 police forces in England and Wales reported 85,564 instances of the offence in 2015, but issued just 13,984 penalty notices – while 53,614 (63 per cent) were sent on a course instead.
In 31 of the 32 forces, more than half of all the offences they recorded resulted in the driver being sent on a course rather than being handed a fine. The highest proportion of courses given out was in North Yorkshire, where 87 per cent of those caught avoiding points in favour of a police seminar.
The only area where courses were less widely administered was in London, where 60 per cent of offenders given fixed penalty notices.
However, the RAC has reported that the number of offenders fell sharply between 2013 and 2015, with a 24 per cent reduction over the two-year period.
These findings come in the wake of a government announcement to introduce harsher penalties for those caught using phones while driving. Under the proposal, offenders will face a six-point penalty, as well as a £200 fine, with no option of attending a course instead.
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.
“But the approach taken across much of the country is sharply at odds with the direction the law is taking. The government has announced that from 1st March, any motorist caught should not be offered the chance to go on a course – they should instead be offered a fixed penalty of six points and a £200 fine, twice what they would receive today.
“The RAC believes urgent focus is now needed to ensure as much is being done as possible to get drivers to change their behaviour. We support the much tougher penalties that will be introduced from March, and would like to see this backed by targeted enforcement by police forces across the country.”
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