A reduction in the number of prosecutions for drivers caught using a mobile phone at the wheel could be due to cuts in the number of traffic officers, according to the RAC.
Figures from the Home Office show convictions fell by around two-thirds from 162,000 in 2011 to 53,000 in 2017, while the number of traffic officers fell by almost 30% in 10 years, from 2007 to 2017, from 3,766 to 2,643.
The RAC said: “If there’s less police officers, there’s probably less convictions taking place as well.”
Despite a reduction in police numbers, officers from West Yorkshire Police have said they sometimes saw so many offenders they couldn’t record them quickly enough. Russell Miller, a PCSO with West Yorkshire Police, said: “There was a point when we spotted one and started to pass on those details.
“Then literally out of the next 10 or 12 vehicles, about 70% were using their mobile phone, and we can’t pass those details on and record them quick enough.”
According to RAC figures, around 25% of drivers admit to talking on a hand-held phone whilst driving, and 40% admit to texting at the wheel.
Between 2013 and 2017 nearly 2,300 crashes occurred as a result of drivers using a mobile phone. In 2017, 33 of these crashes resulted in fatalities.
RAC spokesman, Nick Lyes, said the recent data is suggesting, “bad habits are creeping up again.”
“What we’ve got to do in this country is to make the use of a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving as socially unacceptable as drink-driving.”
The Home Office said it had given forces the biggest increase in police funding since 2010, saying: “The settlement proposes a funding increase of up to £970m in 2019/20, including money raised through council tax.”
“How road traffic offences are enforced are operational matters for the police, while decisions on the size and composition of a force’s workforce are for chief constables and police and crime commissioners.”
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