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Stronger penalties needed for texting drivers, says IAM‏

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Drivers convicted of causing death by dangerous driving should be given stronger and more consistent penalties, according to road safety charity the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists).

An IAM analysis of eleven recent prosecutions involving mobile and smartphone use revealed that the average sentence for causing death by dangerous driving is four-and-a-half years in prison and a disqualification from driving for seven years.  In all of the cases analysed, the convicted drivers were found to have lost their concentration due to using their mobile phone.

Loss of concentration caused:
• Six incidents where vehicles ran into the back of a stationary or slow moving queue of traffic or a broken down vehicle
• Three incidents where vehicles drifted across the road and hit another vehicle head-on
• Two incidents leading to the death of a pedestrian

The vast majority of the public agree that that using a mobile phone while driving is clearly unsafe. Yet, since 2006, 750,000 fixed penalties have been issued to drivers for this very reason.1

IAM chief executive Simon Best said: “The maximum sentence available to the courts is fourteen years, so there is still scope for an even stronger road safety message that drivers who kill whilst distracted on their phones will be caught and jailed for a long time.

“The lesson here is obvious: never use your phone while driving. Whether you have a hands free kit or use loudspeaker, it doesn’t matter. Using your phone in any capacity reduces your attention from the task at hand – driving.”

1. 90 per cent of respondents disagreed that it was perfectly safe to talk on a handheld phone while driving according to British Social Attitudes survey 2011: Public Attitudes towards Transport:
2. IAM analysis of penalties for causing death by dangerous driving due to using a mobile phone covers the time period 2006-2011.
3. The IAM is the UK’s largest independent road safety charity, dedicated to improving standards and safety in driving, motorcycling and cycling. The commercial division of the IAM operates through its occupational driver training company IAM Drive & Survive. The IAM has more than 200 local volunteer groups and over 100,000 members in the UK and Ireland. It is best known for the advanced driving test and the advanced driving, motorcycling and cycling courses. Its policy and research division offers advice and expertise on road safety.

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