Would you tell a driver to put their mobile phone down? Many don't

Would you tell this driver to put his phone down?
Would you tell this driver to put his phone down?

Fewer than three in five people would ask a driver to stop using a hand-held mobile phone if they were a passenger in the car, according to a new study.

Out of those asked, 59 per cent said they would ask for the person behind the wheel to put their phone down. Now we want to know what our readers would do.

Some 12 per cent of those surveyed said they would take the phone away and 8 per cent would refuse to get in a vehicle again with that particular driver.

The poll of 23,141 motorists was commissioned by the AA Charitable Trust to mark the launch of a campaign aimed at changing attitudes towards driver distraction.

The number of fatal accidents on built-up roads in Britain increased by 35 per cent to 200 between April and June compared with the same period last year, Department for Transport figures show.

A driver impaired or distracted by their phone was a contributory factor in 440 accidents in Britain in 2015, including 22 which were fatal and 75 classed as serious.

AA Charitable Trust director Edmund King said: "The hike in fatalities on built-up roads by more than a third is staggering and may be due to driver inattention from excessive use of mobile phones at the wheel.

"Despite horrific and tragic deaths caused by drivers distracted by phones, the problem is still rife.

"Our campaign aims to change attitudes but it must be supported by tougher penalties and more cops in cars."

The charity's 12-month campaign begins with the launch of a short film, Cadence, which was written and produced by film-maker Emmeline Kellie after she became a nervous passenger because her friends were often using their phones while driving.

Some 16,900 drivers were handed fixed penalty notices in relation to the offence in England and Wales last year, compared with 123,100 in 2011, Home Office data shows.

Motoring groups believe the decline is due to a 27 per cent fall in the number of full-time dedicated roads policing officers in England and Wales (excluding London) between 2010 and 2015.

The Government is planning to introduce legislation to toughen the punishment for those caught, with the fine going up from £100 to £200 and penalty points rising from three to six.