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Survey finds 56% of truckers admit they use phones at the wheel

Published 02/11/2016

Tomasz Kroker killed a mother and three children by ploughing into their car while looking at his mobile phone (Thames Valley Police/PA)
Tomasz Kroker killed a mother and three children by ploughing into their car while looking at his mobile phone (Thames Valley Police/PA)

More than half of lorry drivers admit to using their phones while driving, according to new research.

A study by insurance broker Staveley Head found that 56% of truckers say they use their mobiles when they are behind the wheel.

More than one in four (27%) have used messaging app Snapchat and a fifth (20%) have even taken a selfie with their phone.

The figures were compiled from a survey of 3,700 motorists, including 254 lorry drivers.

On Monday, a lorry driver who killed a woman and three children by ploughing into their stationary car while scrolling through music on his mobile phone was jailed for 10 years.

Tomasz Kroker, 30, smashed into the vehicle carrying Tracey Houghton, 45, her sons, Ethan Houghton, 13, and Josh Houghton, 11, and her stepdaughter, Aimee Goldsmith, 11, at 50mph on August 10.

Their car was shunted underneath the back of a heavy goods vehicle and crushed to a third of its size, immediately killing the family, from Bedfordshire, at the scene on the A34 dual carriageway north of Newbury in Berkshire.

Kroker, from Trajan Walk, Andover, Hampshire, was sentenced at Reading Crown Court after pleading guilty to four counts of causing death by dangerous driving and one count of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Last week a lorry driver caught on a dashboard camera causing a motorway pile-up while using his phone was jailed for eight months.

Razvan Rusu, 30, is seen only occasionally glancing at the road in part of the footage released by police, before smashing into a van near junction 2 of the M1 in north-west London in March last year.

The driver directly in his path managed to swerve out of the way, but three other vehicles were damaged and two drivers hurt in the morning rush hour smash.

Rusu, a Romanian national, was jailed at Harrow Crown Court after admitting dangerous driving.

Road safety charity Brake has described the enforcement of driving laws as "woefully inadequate" and called for police forces to be given more resources to catch motorists who are disobeying the rules of the road.

Official figures show a fall in the number of drivers in England and Wales being caught using a mobile phone on the road.

Ministry of Justice data shows that the number of convictions for using a mobile phone while driving has halved from 32,547 in 2010 to 16,093 last year.

The number of fixed penalty notices issued has plummeted by 84% since 2011.

A survey of more than 1,700 UK drivers by breakdown recovery organisation the RAC found that almost one in three (31%) admitted using a handheld phone behind the wheel, compared with just 8% in 2014.

Department for Transport figures show that a driver impaired or distracted by their phone was a contributory factor in 440 accidents in Britain in 2015, including 22 that were fatal and 75 classed as serious.

The Government has proposed doubling the punishment for illegal phone use by drivers.

Motorists caught using a handheld phone are currently given three penalty points and a minimum fine of £100, but this is set to be increased to six points and £200.

Asked if Prime Minister Theresa May felt police were doing enough to deal with the problem of mobile use at the wheel, a Downing Street spokesman said: "We've been very clear that it is totally unacceptable for anyone to use a mobile phone while they are driving.

"The Government is determined to make sure that those who kill or seriously injure people on our roads while doing so are suitably punished. That's why we've got a Ministry of Justice consultation being launched by the end of this year on the appropriate penalties for dangerous driving offences.

"It is an issue for police and their crime commissioners to allocate their resources, to use their knowledge of their local area as they see best and deploy their officers in a manner which they think is the most efficient way of keeping the roads safe. Police do have a range of options available to them and it's a matter for them how they use them."

Press Association

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