Independent, impartial advice for car buyers and car owners

Find an Expert Rating: 

43% of drivers ignorant of harsher penalties for phone use

Study follows introduction of new rules in March

Our Expert Partners

Motorway 600x300

Sell your car with Motorway
Find out more

Cazoo 600x300

Find your next car with Cazoo
Find out more

ALA Insurance logo 2022 600x300

Warranty and GAP from ALA Insurance
Find out more

Motors 600x300

Find your next car with Motors.co.uk
Find out more

MotorEasy logo 300x150

Warranty, servicing and tyres from MotorEasy
Find out more

Mycardirect subscriptions – 600x300

Carsubscriptions from Mycardirect
Find out more


Five months on from the introduction of harsher penalties for drivers caught using their mobile phones, a new study has shown that 43% of drivers are still unaware of the new six-point penalty and £200 on-the-spot fine.

The research, commissioned by car service and repair company Kwik Fit, also found that nearly half of the 2,043 people who participated in the study didn’t know that newly-qualified drivers caught using their phone would lose their licence.

How drivers are using their phones

  • 26% use their phone for satnav or GPS purposes
  • 19% take calls
  • 17% read text messages
  • 16% makes calls without a hands-free set
  • 12% send text messages


Worryingly, younger drivers were the most ignorant of the law and the harsher penalties. Those aged 18-24 were three times more likely to believe that it is legal to use their phone when stopped at traffic lights, twice as likely to say you can answer calls but not make outgoing ones, and that drivers can use their phone in slow-moving traffic.

With 40% of young drivers involved in road accidents, the study found that 8% of 18-24-year old drivers admitted they had crashed as a result of being distracted by a mobile phone. A further 8% said using their mobile had almost caused them to have an accident.

For all other drivers, these figures stood significantly lower at 2% and 3% respectively.

Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit, described the findings of the study as “very worrying indeed”. He urged drivers to “remember that they are the most important safety feature in the vehicle” and that “any form of distraction can have serious consequences”.

43% of drivers ignorant of harsher penalties for phone use
34% of drivers are still using their mobile phones without a hands-free set

Kwik Fit’s study comes as government figures show that the number of fatal and serious accidents where the use of a mobile was a contributory factor has risen by 20% in the five years to 2015.

Accidents with mobile phone usage as a contributory factor

 Fatal accidentsSerious accidentsSlight accidentsAll accidents

Preventative measures?

Car manufacturers have made great strides in improving safety, but it seems drivers can’t resist the lure of technology. So what about changing the technology?

Apple is finalising a new ‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’ feature for iOS 11, which will launch in the next month or so. Based on the existing ‘Do Not Disturb’ function, it mutes incoming calls, texts and notifications. There is also the option to automatically send a message to your contacts to let them know you’re driving and will get back to them. Incoming phone calls can still be picked up, but only if the phone is connected to a hands-free system.

Do Not Disturb While Driving can be set to come on automatically when connected to the car’s Bluetooth or manually activated. The automatic setting turns Do Not Disturb While Driving on when the iPhone detects the vehicle accelerating. Passengers can deactivate it.

43% of drivers ignorant of mobile phone use penalties
Some cars now have the ability to charge devices wirelessly

The latest from The Car Expert

Katharine Morgan
Katharine Morgan
Katharine was a contributor to both The Car Expert and The Van Expert, and is now Motorsport & Automotive Press Officer for Goodwood.