New mobile phone penalties: updates and reaction

12.00 | 1 March 2017 |


  • Coming into force today (1 March), penalties for those caught using a mobile phone while driving double to six points and a £200 fine.
  • The rise in penalty points means an immediate ban for newly-qualified drivers
  • NPCC enforcement campaign marks launch of new mobile penalties
  • Reaction from: IAM RoadSmartBrakeTRL and the AA

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16.45 – Don’t be a what?
In collaboration with the DVSA, the Stationary Office (TSO) has produced a new meme to mark the arrival of the new mobile phone penalties.

 16.00 – Support from the AA

The AA has worked with the THINK! team to produce one of the campaign’s videos, ‘Designated Driver – don’t text and drive’.

To mark the launch, the AA Charitable Trust has also published the results of a AA-Populus poll, which suggests that more than half of young drivers (51%) can’t bring themselves to turn off their mobile phones before driving.

Edmund King, president of the AA, said: “Too many drivers are addicted to their phones. Half of young drivers can’t bear to turn them off in the car. If they don’t switch off their phones they could lose their licence with the new six penalty points. 

“We need to break this addiction and the best way is for drivers to go cold turkey – turn off the phone and put it in the glove box. We are delighted THINK! will be supporting our radical new advert and believe it will begin to make text driving as socially unacceptable as drink driving.”

The AA has also published a new post providing tips for motorists on how to avoid using a phone while driving.

The post looks at how texting affects driving, in terms of distraction, physical impairment and visual impairment, as well as asking what’s more dangerous – text driving or drink driving?

It also explains in detail the new penalties, and why it’s important to stay in proper control of your vehicle.

14.30 – Watch: Liz Brooker MBE appears on Good Morning Britain.

Road Safety GB vice-chair Liz Brooker MBE appeared on Good Morning Britain (GMB) this morning to talk about the use of mobile phones at the wheel.

Liz spoke to Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid about the dangers involved, following a GMB investigation which found five ‘high-profile celebrities’ appearing to use their phones at the wheel and then posting the footage online.

Click here to watch Liz on GMB.


13.30 – Enforcement campaign marks launch of new mobile penalties

Police forces across England, Scotland and Wales are taking part in a week-long enforcement campaign, targeting motorists who use their mobile phone while driving.

Launched today (1 Mar) – as new increased penalties for the offence come into force – the campaign will see extra patrols deployed, and an increased focus on cracking down on illegal mobile phone use.

Chief constable Suzette Davenport, National Police Chiefs’ Council roads policing lead, says officers will use ‘innovative and intelligence-led tactics’.

The campaign will also see police forces and partners work to make using a mobile phone at the wheel perceived as ‘socially unacceptable’, as is the case with drink-driving.

Click here to read the full Road Safety GB news report.

12.15 – TRL explores mobile phone use in greater detail

Following today’s changes to the law bringing about stricter consequences for phone use whilst driving, Shaun Helman, TRL’s head of transport psychology, explores the use of mobile phones while driving in greater detail.

In an article published this morning, he said: “Any task that involves holding a device, looking at it, and interacting with it during driving will adversely affect driving performance. Typical effects are drifting out of lane, erratic speed control and being less aware of what is around you, resulting in poor anticipation of hazards. Recent research by TRL suggests that between 10-30% of road accidents in the EU are at least partly caused by distraction, and social media is an increasing risk in this area.

“Even simply speaking on a mobile phone can slow reaction times to sudden events, as much as being at the legal limit for blood alcohol in England (80mg/100ml of blood). Interacting with social media is even more demanding than simply speaking.

"Drink-driving is socially unacceptable because the behaviour puts not only the driver, but other road users’ lives at risk. Choosing to be deliberately distracted from driving by tasks such as checking social media also puts other road users at risk and should also be seen as socially unacceptable.

“We know that as mobile technology has advanced, more attention has been paid to distraction when driving. However, we also know that attitudes and behaviours can change for the better. Drink-driving was socially acceptable in the 1960s and 1970s, but now it is seen as socially unacceptable by most people. The same could happen with distracted driving, although the development of new technologies may provide alternative solutions.

“Obviously some people, some of the time, value their social connectivity more than they value their safety and the safety of others. It is this perspective that should be targeted.”

 11.35 – Rise in fine ‘welcome’, but still ‘woefully inadequate’ – Brake

Brake has welcomed the rise in penalties for those caught using a mobile phone while driving, but warns that the fine is still too low.

The road safety charity has also expressed its concern that the police do not have enough resources to enforce the new law properly.

Gary Rae, campaigns director, said: “The increase in the points is very welcome. However, when you realise that you can be fined £1,000 for not having a TV licence, then the £200 fine for illegally using a mobile looks woefully inadequate.”

“We’re also very concerned about the ever dwindling number of roads traffic police. Their numbers have fallen by almost a third since 2010. There are now approximately 3,700 specialist traffic officers in England and Wales. We want the UK government to look again at this, and make roads policing a national priority."

11.00 – Is it getting through yet?
Police in Bury St Edmunds ask: do you know the penalty?

Spolier alert: the answer is £200 and six points.

10.30: Addressing smartphone problem requires ‘a combination of enforcement and education’ – IAM RoadSmart

IAM RoadSmart has said that a combination of enforcement and education – as well as individuals taking more responsbility for their actions – is the key to addressing the growing problem of smartphone use at the wheel.

In a press release issued this morning (1 March), the road safety charity says using a hand-held mobile phone while on the move is a fatal distraction.

IAM RoadSmart also points to the results of its Driving Safety Culture Survey (published in 2016), in which more that 86% of respondents thought distraction caused by mobile phones had become worse in the last three years.

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: “Addressing the growing problem of smartphone use whilst driving will require a combination of enforcement and education as well as drivers, passengers, companies and individuals taking more responsibility. 

“IAM RoadSmart is disappointed that the government did not support our calls for first time offenders to be sent automatically on a re-education course specifically tailored to breaking our apparent addiction to being constantly connected. We also want to see car companies, mobile phone makers and social media providers working together to develop technical solutions to hand held mobile phone use in vehicles.”

“It is essential that drivers get the clear message that if you are on the phone and have a fatal crash you can expect to go to prison for a long time. There is a lot of support among the driving public for stronger penalties and more enforcement focus on mobile phones, but also a feeling that this is not always reflected in sentencing. 

10.00: New penalties come into force

Motorists caught using a phone while driving will receive six points on their licence and a £200 fine, under new penalties which come into force today.

Announced by the Government last November, the rise in penalty points will mean an immediate ban for newly-qualified drivers who have a ceiling of six points for the first two years after passing the test.

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.”



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