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Starting today drivers face tougher penalties for mobile phone use

March 1, 2017 by in category News tagged as with 0 and 0
Home > News > News > Starting today drivers face tougher penalties for mobile phone use


tougher penalties for mobile phone offence
  • From today, motorists are to receive 6 points on their licence and a £200 fine
  • 6 points would mean losing your licence if you are a new driver (under 2 years on the road)
  • Fines were increased in 2003 (£30), 2007 (£60) and in 2013 (£100) but still fail to deter motorists from using their mobiles behind the wheel
  • Men were 50% more likely to become distracted behind the wheel than women[1]
  • In 2016 the number of motorists caught at least once for mobile phone offences was 238,694. This was a sharp increase from 2015 (228,301) and from 2014 (68,409)

Motorists who use their phone at the wheel will automatically receive six points on their licence and a staggering £200 on-the-spot fine starting today.

The Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) have revealed that mobile phone use remains more of a distraction and presents a greater risk to motorists than being over the prescribed legal drink driving limit[2].

It has not been long since the rules were revised in 2013 but The Government has implemented harsher penalties in response to a consultation which aimed at looking to improve road safety for motorists. The tougher sanctions are a response to the increasing concerns regarding the lack of prosecutions and convictions for those who use their phone behind the wheel[3].

A Freedom of Information request revealed that nearly 10,000 motorists have been caught for a CU80 (s.41 D of the Road Traffic Act 1988 – Breach of requirements as to proper control of your vehicle, mobile telephones etc.) at least twice in 2016[4].

Figures for 2016 show 238,694 people were caught driving whilst distracted at least once; with only 284 receiving a ban as a result of this. Overall, men were 50% more likely to become distracted by their phones than women[5].

Official statistics from the Department of Transport show young drivers 17-24 were most at risk of losing their licence[6] and were most likely to have an accident or near miss as a result of technology[7].

Jeanette Miller, Managing Director of Geoffrey Miller Solicitors and President of the Association of Motoring Lawyers commented:

“Mobile phone use behind the wheel is clearly on the rise despite all efforts to educate motorists. I can understand the decision to increase the penalties for the offence and suspect this will curb the rise in offending behaviour.”Jeanette Miller

The Government pledged in 2015 to prioritise tougher action against offenders on the road by making enforcement processes more efficient and ensuring that the penalties reflected the public’s views. It has been reported previous increases in penalties have proven ineffective and there are still a number of drivers that reportedly use a hand-held mobile device behind the wheel; a contributory factor in serious roads accidents and fatal accidents in 2014/15 with 1 in 4 fatal accidents being mobile-phone related[8].

The tougher sanctions also come after a number of highly publicised fatal incidents in the media, one of which was the death of cyclist Lee Martin, in 2015 who was hit by a driver with a number of previous motoring convictions.

Young motorists under the age of 25 are most likely to feel the effects of the new changes as record number of licences are expected to be revoked amidst the increased penalties.

New drivers tend to be between the ages of 21 – 26.4 years old[9] at the point of passing their practical test. Now the new changes have taken effect, new drivers who are found to be using their phones behind the wheel within two years of passing their practical test will have to re-sit it after having their licence revoked, having reaching six points after their first offence.

If more experienced motorists are caught using their mobile behind the wheel twice  in a 3 year period and accrue 12 points of more, they will be required to attend Court and face a higher fine of up to £1000 and a “totting up” driving ban starting at six months.

Miss Miller added:

“The demographic most likely to offend will be hit hard by the increase in penalty combined with the New Driver Regulations. Whilst I am not normally an advocate of tougher penalties, I can see the sense in this increase.
What remains unclear and potentially difficult to police is the interpretation of “use” of a mobile phone/interactive communication device. Many motorists use their phones as sat nav or for music. In my view, the government should issue further guidance on exactly what activities will be construed as mobile phone “use.” If it is the case that holding your phone to change your playlist whilst at a standstill will attract 6 penalty points, more emphasis on educating drivers of this is needed.”Jeanette Miller

[1] Research conducted by Opinium Research from 1,548 drivers
[2] TRL, 2002, Report TRL547, “How dangerous is driving with a mobile phone? Benchmarking the impairment to alcohol”
[3] RAC, Illegal Mobile Phone Use
[4] Freedom of Information request, BBC Radio 5 – The Emma Barlett Show.
[5] Research conducted by Opinium Research between 18 to 22 March 2016 with 2,007 nationally representative UK adults aged over 18. Of those, 1,548 were drivers.
[6] Department for Transport report “Increasing Mobile Phone FPN and penalty points for the offence of using a mobile phone while driving” (2016)
[7] 5% of those surveyed have had an accident or near miss as a result of being distracted by technology while driving. 5% UK adult population (50,909,000) = 2,545,450 or 2.5 million. Research conducted by Opinium Research between 18 to 22 March 2016 with 2,007 nationally representative UK adults aged over 18.
[8] STATS19, Road Safety Casualty Dashboard (2011-2015)
[9] Department for Transport report: “Average age of candidates passing their car practical driving test

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