40% of motorists unaware law changes this week for driving using a mobile phone

27 February 2017

  • Almost a third (30%) of drivers admit to using their phone behind the wheel
  • Over half (54%) of drivers don’t believe the law change will go far enough to deter drivers and are calling for a further increase in points and fine
  • Over two thirds (67%) of drivers think offenders should be banned from driving for using their phones

Two fifths (39%) of drivers aren’t aware of the law change which comes into force on Wednesday 1 March and will see the number of penalty points and fines given to drivers caught using their mobile phones behind the wheel double.

From 1 March 2017, drivers who are caught using their phone will receive 6 penalty points and a £200 fine - previously 3 penalty points and a £100 fine.

However, over half of drivers (54%) don’t believe that the change will be enough to deter drivers from using their phones illegally. Of those who don’t believe the increases will go far enough, 79% believe that further increases to both penalty points and fines are necessary to make a positive change in driver behaviours. Over two thirds (67%) even believe that offenders should be banned from driving for using their phones.

Over a tenth (13%) think the fine needs to be increased, with 27% of these believing that this should be £1000 or more whilst 7% think the number of penalty points needs to be increased.

However, a quarter (24%) believe that their driving habits will change for the better as a result of the law change with it deterring them from using their phones.

Over a quarter of drivers questioned this week (30%) still admit to using their mobile phone behind the wheel. The main use is to make or receive calls (73%) and to use their device as a sat nav to search for a destination when they are lost.

What do drivers use their phone for behind the wheel?

  1. To make/receive calls 73%
  2. To search for a destination 28%
  3. To text or instant message 23%
  4. To check/write emails 12%
  5. To check/update social networks 10%
  6. To use a search engine 10%
  7. To read the news 8%
  8. To take a selfie 7%

When it comes to frequency of usage, 16% of drivers admit to using their phones behind the wheel a few times a week, 15% a few times a month with 6% using their phones every day.

Lack of time is a deciding factor for many who use their phones when driving with 16% using their phone for this reason. However 14% use their phones simply because they get bored in queuing traffic. Nearly a tenth (9%) do it as they believe ‘it won’t hurt anyone’.

Reasons drivers give for using their phones behind the wheel

  1. I’m short of time/running late 17%
  2. I get bored in traffic jams 15%
  3. My car doesn’t have hands free connectivity 14%
  4. I need to check notifications as soon as I receive them 13%
  5. I’ve never been caught 10%
  6. It doesn’t hurt anybody 9%
  7. There aren’t any police/cameras where I drive 9%
  8. I don’t want to wear earphones when driving 5%

James Hillon, Head of Products at Co-op Insurance, said:

“Whilst is can be tempting to take that call or check that text, using a mobile phone whilst driving is dangerous and can seriously impact a motorist’s ability to drive safely, which is why it is illegal.

“Despite this, a third of drivers have admitted that they use their phones behind the wheel for a range of reasons from not having enough time in the day, to not wanting to be bored in a traffic jam.

“Whilst it seems as though the increase in penalty may encourage better behaviour, with a quarter now less likely to phone and drive, much of the driving population believe that the increase could have gone further.

“At the Co-op we aim to help build safer communities. We welcome the penalty change and believe that anything that may lead to safer roads and communities in the UK can only be a good thing. However only time will tell what the impact of this penalty increase will be.”

Notes to editors:

*Research conducted by Atomik w/c 20 February 2017 questioning 1,500 UK motorists

For more information please contact:

Jenna Moss
Press and Media Relations Manager
0161 767 4354 / 07770 441 828

About the Co-op

The Co-op Group, one of the world’s largest consumer co-operatives, with interests across food, funerals, insurance, electrical and legal services, has a clear purpose of championing a better way of doing business for you and your communities. Owned by millions of UK consumers, The Co-op Group operates a total of 3,750 outlets, around 70,000 employees and an annual turnover of approximately £10 billion.