Increased penalties are now in force for drivers caught using their mobile phones at the wheel, the UK Government has confirmed.
With effect from 1st March 2017, motorists using a phone while driving in Scotland, England or Wales will receive six points on their licence and a £200 fine – a doubling of the penalties previously in place.
Motorists caught using their mobile twice or accruing 12 points on their licence will face going to court, being disqualified and fines of up to £1,000. New drivers, within two years of passing their test, risk having their licence revoked and lorry or bus drivers can be suspended if caught.
To support the introduction of the new penalties, police forces across the country will apparently be taking part in a week’s enforcement from 1st to 7th March. This will involve extra patrols on the roads and an increased focus on cracking down on people using their phones while driving.
According to Government figures, around 3,600 drivers were handed penalties in the last co-ordinated enforcement week from 23rd to 29th January this year.
“These new penalties reflect the seriousness of the offence and will strengthen the deterrent against using a mobile phone at the wheel,” explained Chief Constable Suzette Davenport, National Police Chiefs’ Council roads policing lead. “We need people to understand that this is not a minor offence that they can get away with."
“Across this week officers will continue to use innovative and intelligence-led tactics to catch and penalise people who are driving while distracted by a mobile phone,” she said. “However, this is an attitudinal problem that we cannot simply enforce away by putting more officers on the roads.”
“This issue has to begin with personal responsibility by drivers,” she added. “We know that people are more likely to report other drivers using a phone than to view themselves as guilty of it. That has to change. Tougher penalties are a step in the right direction, but police forces and partners are working this week to make it socially unacceptable to use a mobile phone at the wheel.”
The doubling of penalties for mobile phone use is just one in a series of measures proposed by the Government to improve safety on the country’s roads. Other plans include increasing the maximum sentence for causing death by dangerous driving from 14 years to life imprisonment, and the Ministry of Justice has recently finished a consultation on this proposal.
A recent survey carried out for the AA Charitable Trust found that 51% of young drivers find it very difficult to make themselves turn off their mobile phones before driving.
The AA also investigated driver attitudes towards drink driving and driving while using a mobile phone. It found that:
- 71% thought texting while driving is a greater crash risk than drink driving.
- 29% said that drink driving was most dangerous on the roads.
- Millennials, who find it hardest to put their phones away, were much more likely than other age groups to see drink driving as more dangerous (47%).
Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.
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