New legislation has come into force that would see drivers using their mobile phones fined £200 and have 6 points put on their licence.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has raised the penalty from 3 points and a £100 fine.
Those found using their phone at the wheel twice will get 12 points and will face magistrates’ court, being disqualified and fines of up to £1,000.
New drivers face suspension
Drivers who have gained their licence in the past 2 years could have their licence revoked, while lorry or bus drivers can be suspended if caught.
Mr Grayling said: “Our message is simple and clear: do not get distracted by your mobile phone while driving. It may seem innocent, but holding and using your phone at the wheel risks serious injury and even death to yourself and other road users.
“Doubling penalties will act as a strong deterrent to motorists tempted to pick up their phone while driving and will also mean repeat offenders could find themselves banned from our roads if they are caught twice.
“Everyone has a part to play in encouraging their family and friends not to use their phones while driving – it is as inexcusable as drink driving.”
Police forces will be cracking down especially hard between March 1 and 7 as they introduce the new penalties. This will include extra patrols and an increased focus on people using their phones while driving.
About 3,600 drivers were handed penalties in the last coordinated enforcement week, from January 23 to 29 this year.
Drivers ‘need to take responsibility’
The government has also launched its THINK! campaign to warn drivers of the new penalties and the dangers of using mobiles while driving.
Chief Constable Suzette Davenport, National Police Chiefs’ Council roads policing lead, said: “These new penalties reflect the seriousness of the offence and will strengthen the deterrent against using a mobile phone at the wheel. 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. 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.”
Members of the public can report repeat offenders to Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111 and information will be passed on to police forces.
Date Published: March 1, 2017
Author: Jonathan Brown