Government to double penalties for mobile phone offences
The penalty for using a hand held mobile phone while driving is to double from three points and a £100 fine to six points and a £200 fine.
Although there has been no official government announcement, the move has been widely reported in the media across the weekend, with the new penalties expected to come into force in the first half of 2017.
The increase in penalty points would mean an immediate ban for newly-qualified drivers who have a ceiling of six points for the first two years after passing the test.
While the move has been broadly welcomed by road safety and motoring organisations, concerns have been voiced about the police’s ability to enforce it.
Talking to BBC News, Louise Ellman, chair of the Transport Select Committee, said detection rates need to be higher.
However, Jayne Willetts of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: "Unfortunately, with fewer officers out on the roads, more of these offences are going undetected."
The Guardian says the DfT is currently working on a new ‘hard hitting’ THINK! campaign.
The RAC says the increased penalties are in response to figures it published last week which suggest mobile phone use by drivers has reached ‘epidemic proportions’.
The RAC findings, published in the 2016 RAC Report on Motoring, suggest a significant worsening in both attitude and behaviour among drivers to using a mobile for making calls and checking social media.
Pete Williams, RAC road safety spokesman, said: “The Government’s swift action to the findings in the RAC Report on Motoring shows they understand just how dangerous it can be to use a handheld mobile phone at the wheel.
“Increasing the fine from £100 to £200 and doubling the penalty points from three to six will help to deter people from doing it.”
Photo credit: PHILLIP LECONTE VIA FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS
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