Offenders in England, Scotland and Wales could now face a £200 fine and six points on their licence
New laws came into force on March 1 for drivers caught using their mobile phone whilst driving.
Much tougher penalties have been announced by the Department for Transport (DfT) as part of a crackdown on the issue of motorists using their mobile phone to text, answer and make calls, or check social media apps whilst behind the wheel of a vehicle.
From March 1, drivers across England, Scotland and Wales caught in the act will now face a fine of £200 and six points on their licence. Both penalties have been doubled in the hope that these changes will be enough to deter motorists from risking using their mobile device whilst driving.
New drivers caught using their phone illegally whilst driving could have their licence revoked under the new laws if they get six points on their licence within their first two years on the road. Simply sending one quick text message whilst driving could be all it takes to lose your licence.
As for the more experienced drivers, they too could lose their licence if they collect 12 points within the space of three years.
Under the new rules, the opportunity to attend a remedial course has been abolished as an alternative to points and a fine, plus repeat offenders could face a fine of £1,000 and a six-month driving ban.
Police forces throughout the country have begun a seven day clampdown to try and catch drivers using their phones whilst behind the wheel. As part of a similar crackdown last month, around 3,600 drivers were pulled over and given penalties.
Latest figures recently released showed that 22 people were killed and 99 badly injured as a result of accidents on roads in the UK in 2015, involving a driver using a mobile phone behind the wheel.
According to the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, the increase to fixed penalties will be a “strong deterrent.”
The Government is also taking further action, to help highlight the dangers of using a mobile device whilst in control of a vehicle. A new ad has been developed by the Government’s road safety group Think! along with the AA Charitable Trust, which will feature on billboards and at the cinema, plus other public outlets.
President of the AA Edmund King said that too many drivers are “addicted” to their mobiles and this problem needs to be addressed.
A survey carried out by the RAC recently found that one in four (26%) of motorists confessed to reading and sending texts, checking emails and looking at their social media apps whilst driving.
Mr King believes the best way to tackle this is to go “cold turkey” – before setting off on a journey, switch off your phone and place it in the glove box.
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