An increase in the number of motorists recorded using mobile phones and not wearing a seatbelt when driving has meant there are now growing calls for harsher punishments for offenders.

Figures published by the Department for Transport as part of its latest transport survey have shown a 1.1 per cent rise in the number of people using handheld phones while at the wheel in the last year. The survey also shows that 3.5 per cent of drivers were spotted not wearing a seatbelt.

The need for fear

Independent road safety charity IAM Roadsmart stated that more needs to be done to get the message across to all motorists that these are extremely dangerous behaviours.

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: “In spite of these being small percentages, this still amounts to hundreds of thousands of people who daily flout the law and put themselves and others at risk.”

He argued that the only way to reinforce the potentially life-changing consequences of these actions is to increase the likelihood that individuals who do break the law are caught and punished for doing so.

Mr Greig suggested the drafting of consistent guidelines on the use of mobile speed camera vans to enforce seatbelt and mobile phone laws as a great way to increase the likelihood of catching offenders.

“The best way of tackling this ever-present issue is to make people believe there is a high chance of being caught,” he concluded.

Heather Stark, brand manager at The Fuelcard People, comments: “Catching more motorists in the act who flout seatbelt and mobile phone safety laws would send a strong message. Motorists must understand that these are behaviours that should not and simply will not be tolerated.”

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