Tough new plans for drivers using mobiles


Motorists who use hand held mobile phones while driving will be hit with an increased penalty, under new government plans.

Motorists who use hand held mobile phones while driving will be hit with an increased penalty, under new government plans. 
Offenders will face an increase from the current three penalty points to four, while the fixed penalty notice will rise from £100 to £150. 
While first time offenders could be offered an educational course to learn and change their behaviour, anyone who previously would have faced points will get a tougher penalty. 
For larger vehicles such as HGVs where the consequences of an accident can be much more severe, the penalty will double from the current three points to six and the fixed penalty notice will rise from £100 to £150.
In 2014, the use of a mobile phone was a contributing factor in 21 fatal accidents and 84 serious accidents, while surveys of drivers have regularly found that it is seen as one of the most dangerous actions on the road. 
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: 
"We have some of the safest roads in Europe, but we are always looking for ways to improve that record. 
"Using a mobile phone at the wheel is reckless and costs lives - I want to see it become a social taboo like not wearing a seatbelt. We will take action to tackle this persistent problem, with an emphasis on the most serious offenders. 
"The message is clear: if you take a call while at the wheel, you could end up being banned from the road.
"The Government is committed to improving road safety and today we are delivering on it." 
Edmund King, AA president said: "This epidemic of hand held mobile phone use while driving has already cost lives and drivers have demanded action. Three quarters of drivers see others using mobile phones on some or most journeys, with one quarter seeing it on every journey according to our polls. The majority of drivers will welcome these increased fines and penalty points, alongside driver improvement courses, to tackle those who use hand held mobiles at the wheel.
"AA members ranked hand held phone use, alongside tailgating, as the two most irritating and dangerous actions on the roads in an AA/Populus poll of 29,660 drivers earlier this year. We welcome this government crackdown and hope it makes drivers hang up when behind the wheel." 
David Bizley, RAC Chief Engineer, said: "Our Report on Motoring this year showed motorists are increasingly worried about other drivers being distracted by mobile phones whilst at the wheel.  There is still a surprising number of motorists who think it is acceptable to take a short call with a hand held mobile whilst driving - it isn't, and is a real danger."
The proposal is further evidence of the government's commitment to road safety having already increased the penalty for mobile phone use while driving from £60 in 2013.
A consultation on the proposal will follow next year (2016).