In a recent survey conducted by IAM RoadSmart, it has been revealed that a significant proportion of advanced drivers in the United Kingdom support the confiscation of mobile phones from individuals caught using them while driving. The survey, which polled 2,437 IAM RoadSmart members in February 2024, uncovered that 34 per cent of respondents endorse the idea of law enforcement confiscating a motorist's mobile device upon catching them using it behind the wheel. 

Interestingly, the survey also indicated that a third of those polled believe that confiscated phones should be returned after a short period, suggesting a temporary measure to reinforce the severity of the offence. However, when it comes to the question of whether offenders should have to pay to retrieve their devices, opinions were divided. Only 27 per cent of respondents supported the idea of offenders paying a fine to reclaim their mobile phones, in addition to the existing £200 fine and six penalty points on their driving licence. A further 7 per cent of respondents supported the confiscation of mobile phones by the police but opposed the idea of offenders having to pay to retrieve them.

Woman using smartphone with both hands while driving

Shifting the focus to the current penalties imposed on individuals caught using mobile phones while driving, the survey yielded noteworthy findings. While 51 per cent of those surveyed deemed the current punishment appropriate, 42 per cent believed the fines to be too lenient. Only 4 per cent considered the penalties to be too harsh.

The survey also shed light on the perceived escalation of driver distraction due to mobile phone usage. A significant 62 per cent of drivers opined that distractions such as texting and talking while driving have become more prevalent in recent years. Moreover, a staggering 80 per cent of respondents viewed illegal phone use by other drivers as a direct threat to their personal safety.

"Using a handheld mobile phone at the wheel is illegal and dangerous and many drivers want police forces to prioritise enforcement against these offenders. Moreover, the idea of confiscation of phones and paying an additional fine for its return has the backing of a surprisingly sizeable number of drivers. While we are never going to see a cop on every corner, camera technology is already being trialled in some parts of the country and could be rolled out nationally subject to Home Office type approval and the final trial findings," IAM RoadSmart Director of Policy and Standards, Nicholas Lyes, commented.