Bigger fines for drivers who “text”

12.00 | 10 May 2013 | | 4 comments

Fines for motorists caught texting behind the wheel are to increase by 50% as part of a Government crackdown on dangerous driving (Telegraph).

Patrick McLoughlin, transport secretary, announced that penalties will increase to £90, and admitted he had once made a call while driving – although said he would not do so anymore.

Mr McLoughlin said he found it "unbelievable" that motorists run the risk of having a fatal collision by using their mobile, either to text or to use social networking sites.

Speaking at a conference in London, he said: "We want to send a clear message to dangerous drivers: If you continue to show complete disregard for the safety of other road users, we will catch you – and we will punish you."

The number of penalty points drivers receive for the offence will stay at three despite calls last month from Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, for the penalty to double to six. Sir Bernard also believes drivers caught using hand-held mobiles at the wheel should be banned from the roads.

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, told the Daily Mail: “With both texting and hand-held use of mobile phones at the wheel causing more impairment than being at the drink-drive limit or under the influence of cannabis, the police need to target the large number of motorists continuing to flout the law."

The higher fine will also apply to drivers who commit a range of other offences including running a red light and speeding.

Neil Greig, IAM director of policy, said: "An increase in fixed penalty levels is needed to maintain the deterrent effect. But the fear of getting caught is the key to changing driver behaviour and high profile policing must be a top priority. Any income from new fines should be put back into road safety to counter recent spending cuts."

Click here to read the full Telegraph report.


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    I have lost a friend due to a motorist losing control whilst on the phone, it happens all the time; yes there are other factors for accidents, texting and using the mobile need not be added to the risks! I think instant bans will be the only way to reduce useage significantly.

    Paul, Norfolk
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    It’s an increased fear of detection which deters people from offending not just bigger penalties. Leave the penalty alone and increase the level of roads policing.

    Dave, Leeds
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    It isn’t just about crashing. Distracted drivers are more likely to be making inadequate progress, demonstrating poor lane discipline, keeping inadequate clearance, not checking mirrors, giving incorrect or absent signals and so on.

    Andy, Worthing
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    While it might seem obvious that mobile phone use could significantly increase accident rates, the statistics are curious. Surveys (therefore measurements, not opinion, although it seems a bit high to me) show around 5% drivers on the phone at any one time (around 50/50 legal hands-free/ illegal hand-held) yet significantly fewer than 1% collisions involve drivers using a mobile phone.

    This is weird because it means that if you observe a road chosen at random, the drivers on the phone are less likely to crash than those who aren’t. Whilst I can think of reasons why this might be the case, I struggle to believe it although, as an engineer, I don’t come to conclusions and then attempt to force the evidence to fit those conclusions.

    Has no-one in road safety noticed this?

    Dave, Slough
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