Fewer Drivers Are Being Caught Using Phones Behind the Wheel

By James O Malley on at

The number of people being caught by police for using their phone while driving has dropped by nearly half.

According to figures dug up by the BBC, in 2015-16, 95,000 people were stopped by police - many fewer than the 178,000 who were stopped in 2011-12.

Of the 37 police forces which provided data to the BBC, the biggest drops were apparently in Kent and Wiltshire, which saw falls by 84% and 80% respectively. Over all, it's a drop nationally of about 47%.

However, the BBC does note that in a handful of areas, the numbers rose when comparing 14-15 and 15-16.

What's really interesting to consider though is why there has been such a massive fall. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the National Police Federation place the blame on cuts, which have reduced the number of traffic officers.

But presumably changing consumer behaviour could also impact it: Since using a phone behind the wheel was outlawed in 2007, it has become increasingly socially unacceptable to do so (a bit like drink-driving). And technological change, with more cars than ever now supporting bluetooth audio, suggests that drivers now have less of a need to raise their phones to their ears. So deriving any massive meaning from these numbers may be trickier than it looks. [BBC]