New government data analysed by CompareNI.com has found that over half of NI drivers have used their phone while driving.
Although the overall number of mobile phone offences in Northern Ireland is decreasing year on year, new data covering 2021/2022 has found that over half of NI drivers (58%), have used their phone in some capacity while driving a car.* This is a slight decrease from the year before when 64% of drivers admitted to the same thing.
Nearly half of all respondents (46%), believed that drivers were not likely to be stopped by police for using their hand-held mobile phone while driving. Males in general were shown to be the most likely to commit mobile offences while driving, with a higher percentage than females believing they wouldn’t get caught (48%).
Making a hands-free call accounted for the highest usage in a moving (49%) or stationary vehicle (47%), while 6% of drivers admitted to making a hand-held call while driving.
Older drivers were identified as the group who were least likely to use their phone while driving with just under a third (30%) of those aged 65 or over admitting to having done so in the last 12 months.
Using a mobile phone at any time while driving is illegal. The Highway Code NI states that before setting off on a journey drivers should make sure they have switched off their mobile phones.
It also states that drivers must not use a hand-held mobile phone, or similar device, when it is unsafe or impractical to stop, except to call 999 in a genuine emergency.
Drivers should also avoid using hands-free phones while driving as it can cause significant distraction and increase the risk of crashing. Using a hands-free phone while driving may still be breaking the law as drivers must be in full control of the vehicle at all times.
In 2022 there were 1,762 mobile phone offences recorded by the PSNI.**
Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon policing district recorded the largest number of mobile phone offences (344) in 2022, while the highest rate (per 10,000 people aged 16+) was reported in Lisburn and Castlereagh with 21.
Ards and North Down ranked lowest in both measures, with 35 detections which is equivalent to 3 per 10,000 people aged 16+.
Mid and East Antrim had the second lowest rate in Northern Ireland with 7 per 10,000 people 16+, closely followed by Causeway Coast and Glens with 8.
Commenting on the data, Ian Wilson, Managing Director of CompareNI.com said: “It’s positive to see the number of mobile phone driving offences in Northern Ireland continuing to decrease year on year. However, it is worrying to hear that nearly half of those surveyed think the police won’t stop people who are using their phones while driving.
“Outside of the dangers it can cause to the driver and other road users, drivers caught using a mobile phone can face significant consequences. In Northern Ireland, if you’re caught using a hand-held mobile phone while driving, you’ll get an automatic fixed penalty notice, six penalty points and a fine of £200. If your case goes to court, you may face disqualification on top of a maximum fine of £1,000.
“Those caught using a mobile phone while driving also risk having their car insurance premiums increase significantly and even risk being rejected for a policy in the future.”
For more information and access to the New Driver NI magazine see www.newdriverni.com.
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