A leading police officer has suggested that those who drive as part of their job ‘should get harsher punishment’ for using a mobile phone at the wheel (Daily Mail).
Chief constable Suzette Davenport, the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s (NPCC) lead on roads policing, told the Daily Mail that tougher penalties for business drivers would ‘act as a deterrent’.
Chief constable Davenport says that the current Government consultation on mobile phone penalties doesn’t go far enough.
The consultation, launched on 26 January, seeks feedback on proposals to increase the number of penalty points for drivers caught using a mobile phone and raise the fixed penalty notice level from £100 to £150 for all drivers.
Miss Davenport suggests that professional drivers pose a disproportionate risk to others as they travel up and down the nation’s motorways and A-roads.
Under her plans, delivery drivers and other business drivers would face a ban if caught twice while others would be punished less harshly.
She told the Daily Mail: “If you get caught twice on a mobile phone during a set period of time you should receive a short-term ban.
“If you cannot conduct your professional life or business, that is really going to impact on people and I hope it would be a deterrent.”
However, the RAC has cautioned against a ‘two-tier system’, suggesting that all road users should face the same penalties.
Simon Peevers, RAC Business spokesperson, said: “The fact is there are too many motorists in general that still use hand held mobile phones while driving and there is a real need to change that behaviour. Whether people are driving for business, going to the shops or doing the school run, the distraction caused by hand-held phone use can lead to disastrous consequences.
“It may be that the threat of a driving ban is a better deterrent than points and a fine, and worthy of consideration; but rather than set a higher level of punishment for certain drivers the law should be equal and clear for all drivers and crucially, more effectively enforced.
Road Safety GB has expressed a need for both education and enforcement.
Will Murray, director of Interactive Driving Systems and Road Safety GB specialist with regard to driving for work, said: “As with all things road safety, it’s about a combination of education, enforcement, engineering, evaluation and enablement.
“At the organisational level policy is important – organisations should be encouraged to have robust mobile phone policies. Without such a policy, drivers are not being engaged nor enabled to do the right thing
“As an example, one organisation we work with used DVLA data to inform policy decisions. It identified a large number (more than 70 in three years) of CU80 mobile phone related endorsements among its drivers and took the decision to implement a total ban on mobile phone use on work journeys, or in work vehicles driven for personal use.
“Over the following two-year period, only three CU80s were recorded – representing a significant reduction in risks and costs to the organisation, and its people."