Road Safety News
 

Double points for mobile phone motorists, says Met chief

Tuesday 2nd April 2013

Penalty points should be doubled for drivers caught using a mobile phone, and young drivers caught within two years of getting their licence should be forced to retake their test, according to Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner (Daily Mail).

Sir Bernard believes that if penalty points were doubled to six for motorists caught using a mobile phone at the wheel, drivers would be deterred from flouting the law.

He said: “I have to say I have still got an issue around mobile phone usage myself. I think it is still very high when people are driving. If I was able tomorrow, I would say you get six points for driving while using a phone.

“The problem at the moment is we are dishing out lots of tickets, somebody gets three points and they have got another three chances. I would say you have got two chances. You have had a mobile phone infraction and if you do it again you lose your licence.”

His comments follow concerns that an increasing number of drivers are ignoring the ban on using their mobiles behind the wheel. According to the Daily Mail, the Government’s decision to increase the penalty from a £30 fine six years ago to £60 has had little effect on motoring attitudes. One recent study suggested around 200,000 motorists are fined for the offence every year.

A DfT spokesman said: “Using a mobile phone whilst driving is incredibly dangerous and the vast majority of drivers know that if caught they could face a fine, penalty points and even prison in serious cases.

“Unfortunately some drivers continue to break the law which is why we have recently consulted on increasing the fixed penalty for this offence from the current £60.”

Edmund King, AA president, said: “There is a case for having a stronger deterrent like six penalty points. This would have a particular impact on young people who would lose their licences immediately.

“If the penalty was increased there must be a concerted police campaign to show people there is a strong likelihood they will get caught.”

Kevin Clinton, RoSPA’s head of road safety, said: “If drivers know there is a good chance of getting caught if they use their phone while driving, they are less likely to risk doing so.

“Increasing the points for this offence would be inconsistent with other motoring offences, but it is very likely that the fine for a range of fixed penalty motoring offences will be increased, from £60 to £90.”

Click here to read the full Daily Mail story.

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If we as the public are observing the excessive numbers of drivers using phones why is it that the police are not doing the same and prosecuting more people? It is not the size of the punishment but the adherence to the law that is the problem. However, considering that using a phone whilst driving is more dangerous than driving over the drink limit I believe that the punishment should be increased in conjunction with more convictions.
Jonathan Phippen, Bath

Agree (10) | Disagree (0)
+10

Definitely agree - and double the fine while you're at it. It's reached epidemic proportions.
Keith, BuzzRSE, Essex

Agree (11) | Disagree (1)
+10

In the part of London where I live it's against the law NOT to speak/text on the mobile whilst driving.
Luke, London

Agree (3) | Disagree (2)
+1

Who's going to prosecute the user?
Ian, Gloucester

Agree (0) | Disagree (0)
0

I agree with Sir Bernard.
Nigel Albright

Agree (5) | Disagree (5)
0

I think that cyclists and motorists using a hand held mobile phone, reading newspapers, etc. whilst cycling/riding/driving is unacceptable, full stop. No excuses nor exceptions.
Phil, Kent

Agree (19) | Disagree (0)
+19

Edmund King and Kevin Clinton are both correct, Met Chief is wrong. Did raising the fine make any difference to offence rates? I'm talking about the number of times you or I see a phone in use. I drive mainly short journeys around 10 rural miles. Usually see 2-3 phones in use. I don't remember the last time I saw a report of prosecution(s) in local papers.

The only way to make undesirable behaviour unacceptable is prosecution first before the magnitude of punishment. It worked for DD, its sort of worked for unacceptable speed. Its been the only way to modify the UK behaviour. Get Traffic Division on the road again, turn off the ANPR, observe and enforce, Sir Bernard.
Martin Elliott, Guildford Surrey

Agree (17) | Disagree (5)
+12

Kevin Clinton has it spot on. Drivers need to know there is enforcement out there, but we are told in these fiscally challenging times that to save money police forces are "losing" staff and traffic officers are amongst that number. That said, the problem is not with limitations on control of the vehicle using a hand held device but the impression that having a hands free system will not take away the driver's attention. Concentration on a conversation whether the device is in your hand or stuck to the dashboard will be at the same level. The legislation is flawed in that any conversation on a mobile is dangerous.
Peter London

Agree (24) | Disagree (3)
+21