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Ministers Cracking Down On Mobile Phone Use While Driving

By raccars Published

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The Transport Secretary, Patrick Mc Loughlin, is apparently planning to increase the penalties given to drivers caught using mobile phones behind the wheel. Currently, drivers caught calling or texting from a hand held phone while driving receive three penalty points and a fine, but new plans could see this double.

Research has indicated that a number of deaths are caused annually by drivers using mobile phones, prompting the government to consider the stricter penalties. One road fatality every two weeks is attributed to drivers calling or texting while driving.

The increase in points could see offending drivers banned from the road for just two infractions in a three year period. Recently qualified drivers, subject to a lower threshold for a licence ban for their first two years on the road, would be off the road for just one offence. However, one suggestion has been to stagger the application of points, so that a first offence accrues three points, with six points issued for any ensuing offences.

Apart from doubling the amount of penalty points applied to licences for drivers caught using mobile phones, the Transport Secretary is also considering increasing the level of the monetary fine to £150 from the current £100. Drivers would also see their insurance premiums increase with this level of licence points.

The new scheme is the brainchild of Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Metropolitan Police Commissioner, who put forward the idea to Patrick McLoughlin. The Transport Secretary was impressed enough to ask for a draft legislation to be drawn up, in preparation for a potential change in the law next year.

Figures suggest that mobile phone use was a contributory factor in 23 road deaths and 74 serious injuries in 2011. Road deaths in general in the UK are falling but the government is keen reduce the number of fatalities further, having made using a mobile phone while driving illegal ten years ago. At first the offence carried a fine of £30, which was brought up to £60 and the application of three licence penalty points in 2007. In 2013 the fine was increased again to £100 with the possibility of a court conviction and a £1,000 fine.

The stricter measures seem to be working, with the number of drivers being issued with penalty points for mobile phone use decreasing to 583,700 by August 2013 from 677,500 in May 2012, a fall of 14%.

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