A third of advanced drivers support confiscation of mobile phones for offenders behind the wheel

Thirty four percent of advanced drivers in the UK would support the police confiscating a motorist’s mobile phone if offenders were caught using it illegally behind the wheel, according to new research published today by the UK’s leading road safety charity IAM RoadSmart.

A survey of 2,437 IAM RoadSmart members* carried out in February 2024 found that a third (34%) of respondents support the idea of the police confiscating mobile phones for a short period with 27% of them believing offenders should pay to get their phone back. This would be an additional punishment to the existing £200 fine and points endorsement. A further 7% support confiscation but do not think offenders should pay to get their phone back. A small majority (56%) were unconvinced that taking a phone was appropriate.

When asked if they feel the current £200 fine and 6 points on the licence is a sufficient punishment, half (51%) said it is about right, with 42% believing it is too lenient. A meagre 4% said the current penalty is too harsh. Those feeling the status quo is too lenient were asked what a more appropriate penalty would be, with the most popular alternative (selected by 34%) being an instant six-month driving ban and an unlimited fine. This was followed by a £1,000 fine and six points on a licence (supported by 20%).

These figures are published alongside a separate survey** for IAM RoadSmart (members and non-members) showing almost two-thirds (62%) of drivers believe that driver distraction such as talking and texting at the wheel is a bigger problem than three-years ago. A large majority of drivers (80%) consider others’ illegal phone use as a threat to their own personal safety, with a quarter (24%) now believing it to be a top-three priority for roads policing.

IAM RoadSmart Director of Policy and Standards Nicholas Lyes said: “Using a handheld mobile phone at the wheel is illegal and dangerous and many drivers want police forces to prioritise enforcement against these offenders. Moreover, the idea of confiscation of phones and paying an additional fine for its return has the backing of a surprisingly sizeable number of drivers.”


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