Tougher penalties for drivers who use mobiles follow RAC findings

Tougher penalties for drivers who use mobiles follow RAC findings
Ministers are set to double the penalties for illegal mobile phone use while driving after research from the RAC revealed the problem has reached shocking new levels.

Under the proposals, which would come into force next year, the minimum fine drivers will receive if they are caught using a handheld mobile phone behind the wheel will rise from £100 to £200.

This will be accompanied by an increase in the amount of penalty points incurred from three to six, the Department for Transport revealed on Saturday.

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More experienced drivers who offend twice could also be sent to court and receive fines of up to £1,000, along with a six-month ban from driving.

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In addition to the harsher penalties, which will apply in England, Scotland and Wales, a Think! campaign will be launched to raise awareness of the dangers associated with using a phone when driving.

The announcement comes after a poll carried out for the 2016 RAC Report on Motoring found that there has been an alarming rise in the number of people using their phone when on the road.

It is thought that as many as 11 million motorists could now be making or receiving a call when driving, in addition to a worrying five million taking photos or videos.

There has also been a rise in the number of people who own up to using a phone behind the wheel, up from 8% in 2014 to 31% today, the research shows.

Additionally, there has been a rise in drivers sending a text, email or posting on social media, with the figure increasing from 7% two years ago to 19% today.

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The RAC welcomed the Government’s announcement to increase the penalties for mobile phone while driving, but added that cuts to roads police could make them difficult to enforce.

Pete Williams, road safety spokesman, said: “The Government’s swift action to the findings in the RAC Report on Motoring shows they understand just how dangerous it can be to use a handheld mobile phone at the wheel. Increasing the fine from £100 to £200 and doubling the penalty points from three to six will help to deter people from doing it in the first place.

“However, it is just as important that laws are seen to be enforced, and the decline in the numbers of dedicated road traffic police has only heightened the feeling that those who use a handheld phone while driving simply get away with it.”

Copyright Press Association 2016. Motoring News articles do not reflect the RAC's views unless clearly stated.