Double penalties for mobile phone offences come into force

12.00 | 1 March 2017 | | 5 comments

The DfT has launched a ‘powerful and thought-provoking’ THINK! campaign to warn drivers of the dangers of using mobiles while driving, and the new tougher penalties which come into force today (1 Mar).

The campaign will see adverts on billboards, radio and social media, as well as a ‘hard-hitting’ video, developed in partnership with the AA Charitable Trust, which will be shown in cinemas.

THINK! has also produced stickers and other in-car merchandise to encourage motorists to put their phone away and out of reach while driving. These resources will be distributed through partnerships with driving schools and car rental companies.

The new penalties will see motorists caught using a phone while driving receive six points on their licence and a £200 fine – up from the previous three points and £100 penalty.

That means motorists caught using their mobile twice – accruing 12 points on their licence – will face a magistrates’ court appearance, disqualification from driving and fines of up to £1,000. It also means new drivers, within two years of passing their test, run the risk of having their licence revoked for a single offence.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling hopes doubling the penalties will ‘act as a strong deterrent to motorists tempted to pick up their phone’.

The new THINK! campaign includes a 30” radio advert voiced by Channel 4’s F1 presenter, Steve Jones. The advert informs listeners about the tougher penalties for using a handheld mobile phone and offers advice about where to put your phone while driving – the glove compartment.

One of the new videos, titled ‘Designated Driver – don’t text and drive’, will be used on social media. Lasting a minute, the video plays on the notion that ‘you’re twice as likely to crash text driving as you are drink driving’. The video is also available in a shorter 40 second format with subtitles.

A second ‘hard-hitting’ video tells the story of three members of the Carvin family (father and two children) whose wife/mother was killed in a collision caused by a driver who was using their mobile phone at the time.

Chris Grayling, transport secretary, 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.”

Road Safety GB members can download the THINK! Mobile Phones Campaign Toolkit from the members’ area of this website (password protected).


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    This campaign might result in more dangerous behaviour and cause accidents. The AA Charitable Trust report some 13% of young drivers (18-24yrs)find it difficult to ignore a message or email alert on their phones whilst driving. Having their phone stashed in the Glove Compartment might tempt them to lean across whilst driving to view a new message. Did anyone consult with young drivers before launching this campaign message?

    mark fleming – North Wales
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    Janet, you make some very interesting points. I think though that you have misunderstood the legal changes with respect to mobile phones. Rest assured, that neither the current blanket ban on handheld mobile phones nor the plethora of other offences available to prosecutors if a driver is involved in a crash that causes death or injury have been repealed. The only thing that has changed is that the penalty for using a mobile phone whilst driving has been doubled, whether that usage makes the driver safer or more dangerous and whether the driver crashes or not. I think you are right that more radical changes are required though, and that we shouldn’t have to tolerate our current road safety model, the mainstay of which is that our individual safety depends almost entirely on other road users complying 100% with all the rules and regulations. Compare that with the safety regimes in other walks of life, businesses, factories, railways, airlines, where the onus is on the provider of the system to build in tolerance of, and a safety margin for, user error.

    Charles, England
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    An extra £100 added to the current fine of £100 and 6 points on the Licence – how does that equate as punishment for the loss of life. The only deterrent is to put a blanket ban on the use of mobile phones whilst driving. Before we ever had mobile phones, no-one died because of them. More radical legislation is needed. Why should I risk my life travelling in a car when another car driver maybe senseless enough to use a mobile phone at the wheel.

    Janet Richards
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    BBC’s The One Show yesterday (Tuesday 28th) had a feature about this, and interviewed some motorists caught committing this offence.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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    Let’s hope we see a significant step drop in the road casualty figures from 1 March 2017 then, to prove the value of these measures. It would be disastrous if we saw the increases seen in certain US states as motorists try more desperately to hide their phones whilst still using them, in a more concerted attempt to avoid detection.

    Charles, England
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

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