NOTE: This content is old - Published: Friday, Sep 16th, 2016.
The UK government wants to bring in much tougher penalties for illegal mobile phone use, doubling punishments for offences.
Motorists caught using a handheld phone currently receive three penalty points and a minimum fine of £100, that is set to increase to six points and £200 under new rules expected to come in next year.
Newly qualified drivers have their licence revoked if they get six points within two years of passing the test meaning young drivers caught on phones could lose their licence and be forced to retake tests under the proposals.
More experienced motorists can lose their licence if they accrue 12 penalty points within a three-year period.
The new rules, which will apply to England, Scotland and Wales, could also see more experienced drivers going to court if they offend twice, and facing possible fines of up to £1,000 and at least a six-month driving ban.
The Department for Transport said it expected the changes to take effect in the first half of 2017.
[miptheme_quote author=”AA president Edmund King” style=”boxquote text-right”]”This is radical. One text and you’re out. But if we are to change the attitudes of young drivers maybe it has to be that harsh. “They are going to have to turn off their phones at the wheel otherwise they will be taken off the road.”[/miptheme_quote]
Department for Transport figures show that a driver impaired or distracted by their phone was a contributory factor in 492 accidents in Britain in 2014, including 21 that were fatal and 84 classed as serious.
National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for roads policing, chief constable Suzette Davenport, said:
“Using mobile phones is one of the most dangerous behaviours for motorists, putting drivers, passengers and others on the road at risk of death and serious harm. We welcome the tougher penalties announced by the Department of Transport.
As more and more people are using their phones when driving, we can’t just arrest and prosecute our way out; we have to make it socially unacceptable. Like drink driving, we have to work towards changing people’s attitudes through a blend of enforcement and education.
We will support these new measures with local action and national operations to keep our roads safe but drivers also need to take responsibility for their behaviour behind the wheel and exert some social pressure on family and friends who take this risk.”