| 3.6°C Belfast

Northern Ireland drivers among UK's worst for using mobiles at wheel


Over 5,000 local drivers were penalised for phone offences (stock photo)

Over 5,000 local drivers were penalised for phone offences (stock photo)

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Over 5,000 local drivers were penalised for phone offences (stock photo)

Drivers in Northern Ireland are among the UK's worst offenders when it comes to careless driving and using a phone behind the wheel.

The figures for the financial year 2016/17 were taken from the number of fixed penalty notices issued across all UK regions.

More than 18,000 penalties were issued for all driving offences in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland had the third worst careless driving rate in the UK with 30 offences per 10,000 drivers - 3,245 in total. The offences included tailgating, overtaking dangerously, middle lane hogging and driving under the influence of drink or drugs.

Over 5,000 local drivers were also penalised for phone offences, the fourth highest UK rate, with 47 out of every 10,000 drivers punished.

This includes making or receiving calls - unless using a hands-free device - as well as doing anything with your phone while the engine is running, even if the vehicle is stationary.

Other figures showed that nearly 6,000 speeding tickets were issued to local drivers here, 54 out of every 10,000.

Around 1,000 penalties were issued for both parking offences as well as not buckling up, while over 1,500 were caught driving without either a licence or insurance.

Avon & Somerset was named the worst overall UK region for driving offences, with 1,785 offences per 10,000 drivers.

Speeding remains the UK's top driving offence, while those caught using a mobile phone dropped by 40% in 2017.

Private licence plate company Regtransfers compiled the report using local government data.

Spokesperson Angela Banh said: "The data reveals some alarmingly high figures for fixed penalty notices across the UK. It's crucial to abide by the laws of the road, even if your car is in perfect working order, committing driving offences puts not only you, but other road users in danger."

She said with British drivers subjected to more severe punishments that ever before, it's hoped offending rates will drop.

"We hope the data will make people think twice next time they consider speeding, or driving while using their mobile phone," she said. "Drivers should always stay safe on the roads."

This year 14 people have died on local roads including six pedestrians, seven drivers and one passenger.

In March, the Department for Infrastructure launched a consultation asking if tougher penalties should be introduced for using phones at the wheel.

The potential measures include doubling the number of penalty points and more than tripling the £60 fine for those caught driving while on the phone.

Last month, the PSNI joined colleagues across Europe in a 24-hour crackdown on speeding. Chief Inspector Diane Pennington warned at the time that excessive speed remained one of the principal reasons for serious road accidents.

Belfast Telegraph