Drivers who are caught using a mobile for the first time will automatically receive penalty points, under government plans.
Back in September it was announced that fines and penalty points would be increased but the Prime Minister, Theresa May, while on a visit to India, has now revealed plans to increase the punishment further. Ministers believe the current option in police force areas of a remedial driving course is not tough enough to deter phone use at the wheel. Proposals have already been made to double the fine from £100 to £200 and to raise penalty points from three to six.
Theresa May wants to make a point that using a mobile phone at the wheel is as socially unacceptable as drink-driving. She said: “Sadly, we have seen too many times the devastating and heart-breaking consequences of using a mobile phone while driving.
“A moment’s distraction can wreck the lives of others forever. We are determined to make our roads safer by taking action against those who flout the law and put other people at risk.”
Nick Freeman, a lawyer from Manchester known as Mr Loophole, called to put it on ‘a parity with drink driving.’ He told the Manchester Evening News last year that drivers must be made to pay, stating: “Research has consistently shown that illegal use of a mobile phone can be just as dangerous as drink-driving, therefore the punishment must be changed to reflect this. “It’s not often I side with the police. It’s just the government that is out of tune. However, if it wants to improve road safety as it claims, it must introduce measures that produce real results, not just a few tabloid headlines. Illegal phone-driving must be put on a parity with drink-driving – and it must also be made as socially unacceptable.”
Department of Transport (DoT) data shows that a driver being impaired or distracted by their phone had been a factor in 440 accidents in Britain last year, including 22 fatal collisions.
Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, said: “By ruling out courses and doubling the fine, ministers are reflecting public concern and showing they want to stamp out potentially lethal activity before it becomes entrenched behaviour for a growing number of drivers.”