Penalty points for drivers using mobile 'could double'

 
Driver on mobile phone Currently drivers get three points on their licence if they are caught using a phone behind the wheel

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The penalty for using a mobile phone while driving could be doubled from the current three points, the transport secretary has suggested.

Patrick McLoughlin's suggestion comes after Met Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe called for offenders to get six points on their licence.

The increased sanctions would mean a driver could get banned if they got caught twice in three years.

A government spokesman said it was "considering a number of options".

It has been illegal to use a mobile phone while driving since December 2003.

As it stands offenders get three points on their licence and an initial £100 fine, which could increase to a £1,000 fine should the case go to court.

'Alert people'

Mr McLoughlin's suggestion was made during a lunchtime briefing with journalists on Tuesday.

The Daily Mail reported that he said: "We've got to change this. I want to alert people to what they are doing.

"The person who is using their phone doesn't realise the damage or the danger that they could be in, so it ends up ruining different people's lives."

Graph showing fixed penalty notices issued for  driving while using a phone in England and Wales

Figures released by the Department for Transport show that in 2012 there were 17 fatal accidents involving mobile phones and a further 67 "serious accidents".

Home Office figures show that in 2012 in England and Wales more than 92,500 fixed penalty notices were issued for using a handheld mobile phone while driving, which is a fall of 32% on 2011 when more than 123,000 notices were issued.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of road safety charity Brake, said she would welcome the proposal should it ever become legislation.

She said: "We hope the government will implement it. Brake has long campaigned for tougher penalties for mobile phone use at the wheel because of the suffering we see the bereaved and injured victims of road crashes put through as the result of such a senseless and unnecessary risk."

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe The Met Police confirmed that Sir Bernard was in favour of tougher penalties

A Department for Transport spokesman said: "Using a mobile phone while driving is extremely dangerous which is why we are considering a number of options to deter drivers."

'Motorway deaths'

In August 2013 the department increased the initial fine drivers received for getting caught using their phone from £60 to £100.

Shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh said: "Sadly under this government we have seen the first increase in motorway deaths in nearly a decade.

"Using your phone while driving is illegal and Labour will be pressing the government to take firm action to prevent these avoidable deaths."

Last week research by the motoring group the RAC suggested that a fifth of motorists did not know it was illegal to check social media websites on a phone while driving.

 

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 207.

    I have to confess to having done this in the past, though now reformed. But why this messing about with special penalties? If the article above's right and a Transport Department spokesman said: "Using a mobile phone while driving is extremely dangerous" then shouldn't dangerous driving penalties apply?I'm not so sure that handsfree is all that marvellous either, but you can't do it all in one go

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 165.

    I agree with stricter penalties for what is a much underrated offence which can have devastating consequences. The best deterrent for persistent abusers would be to have them excluded from using all mobile phone networks. These people are so in love with their phones that this would be the greatest punishment, were it technically possible.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 155.

    i drive 44 ton hgv trucks and the view from my cab is absolutely amazing from drivers using there phones to woman putting there make -up on , kids climbing all over the inside of the cars , animals sitting on there owners laps while driving my view is anyone caught for any driving offences should have to re-sit there test it would soon stop all these idiots coming to my place of work dangerously

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 102.

    A law that is never enforced, or rarely enforced, or difficult to enforce is a foolish law. Enforce it properly or scrap it.

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 39.

    No excuse for not using a hands free these days. Most phones have something useable included in the box, or as an option for a tenner. Most cars newer than 5 years have blue tooth hands free. Thus there should be strict penalties.

 

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