Significant proportion of drivers still use phones at the wheel and fail to wear a seat belt

New figures from the Department for Transport show three in every thousand drivers observed on England’s roads are using a mobile phone whilst driving, with the proportion of van drivers breaking the law three times that of car drivers.

The statistics, gathered and analysed for the DfT by AECOM using images captured by Acusensus roadside technology, also showed 4.8% of vehicle occupants were observed not wearing a seatbelt.

Overall, 0.6% of van drivers were observed using a mobile phone whilst driving, compared to 0.2% of car drivers, while men and drivers estimated as aged 17 to 29, were more likely to be observed using a mobile phone while driving, compared to women and drivers estimated as being aged 60 or over.

Based on data for a small selection of sites, a higher proportion of drivers (0.8%) were observed using a mobile phone during the evening (6pm to midnight).

97.6% of all vehicle drivers were observed using a seatbelt (compared with 96.4% for Scotland based on data collected in early 2024).

95.2% of all vehicle front seat passengers were observed using a seatbelt (compared with 95.7% for Scotland).

Seatbelt wearing rates varied notably by vehicle type, and were higher for cars and lower for other types of vehicle.

For the core survey, observations were made from static images captured by Acusensus technology at a total of 25 sites across England during October and November 2023.  Sites were surveyed once each on a weekday (either morning or afternoon) for a period of 6 hours, and a representative sample of observations analysed.  This is a new way of gathering the data, which was previously collected by human observation at the roadside in real time.

The Acusensus technology captures footage of passing motorists. The Heads-up system captures high-resolution, prosecutable evidence of individuals engaging in illegal driver behaviour at any time and during all weather conditions. 

The AECOM report says the strengths of the system include the capability to capture images day or night, enduring various weather conditions, including challenging scenarios such as sun glare, at speeds of up to 186mph without motion blur or distortion. Further details are in the quality and methodology section and the accompanying technical report.

(Picture – AECOM)


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