Tougher penalties for drivers caught on their phones

Published: 01 March 2017

Tougher penalties for drivers caught on their phones
From today any driver caught using their mobile phone behind the wheel will face tougher penalties.
 
The fixed penalty for being caught using a mobile device has doubled from £100 to £200. You will also get 6 points on your licence. 
 
First time offenders will not be allowed to take a remedial training course as an alternative.
 
If drivers are caught for a second time they will automatically be required to appear in court and will receive a fine of up to £1000 as well as a driving ban of up to 6 months.
 
If a new driver, within 2 years of passing their test, is caught it will result in an automatic loss of licence and they will be required to re-sit their test.
 
Police are out in force today as a national week of operations to catch motorists who continue to break the law and risk their lives and the lives of others.
 
The Department for Transport (DfT) have said mobile phone use while driving can have a worse impact on driving ability than being above the drink driving limit and is introducing its new rules following a consultation last year.
 
The transport secretary, Chris 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.”
 
Fines for this offence were first introduced in 2003, at £30. They were doubled in 2007 and drivers falling foul of the law were also given three penalty points. In 2013 the fine went up to £100 but there has been no sustained reduction in observed mobile phone use over time, according to the DfT.
 
Last year in the UK, 22 people were killed and 99 were seriously injured in incidents where drivers were using mobile phones.
 
The DfT is rumoured to be considering implementing new technology that could block phone signals for drivers. 
 
The new technology would make mobiles virtually useless by disabling any function that requires internet access or connection to a telephone network. Like switching the phone to flight mode, no calls, text or email.
 
The move comes after almost one in three motorists admitted to having used their phone while driving.
 
So what exactly is the law?
 
It is illegal to use a hand-held phone or similar device while riding a motorbike or driving, even if you are stopped at the lights or in a queue.
 
The same applies if you are supervising a learner driver.
 
The police can stop you if they think you are distracted, even if your phone or sat-nav is hands-free
 
Drivers can only use their phones to make emergency calls when it is "unsafe or impractical" to stop, or if they are safely parked.
 
Let’s not forget the damage that can be caused even by looking at your phone for a split second. Put your phone away whilst driving.
 
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