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Mobile phone and driving clamp down

Published: 12/10/2016

The Government is doubling the points and fines for drivers who use mobile phones behind the wheel.

The changes, expected to be made within the first half of 2017 will mean anyone found texting, using a hand-held phone or app. whilst driving will receive six penalty points instead of the current three; on the spot fines will also double to £200.00.

Similarly for newly qualified drivers – who are allowed only six points before being banned – could have their licences revoked if caught using their phone.

Drivers who are caught twice for the offence will automatically appear in court and face fines of up to £1,000 and at least a six-month driving ban.

The new laws will be supported by a Government THINK! campaign, aiming to make it socially unacceptable, like drink driving or not wearing a seatbelt.

It might also be worth noting the rules are the same if you’re stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic.

It’s also illegal to use a hand-held phone or similar device when supervising a learner driver or rider.

Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling said: “As technology develops, mobile phones are common place, but we need to take responsibility for our actions and as drink or drug driving has become socially unacceptable, so must using mobile phones at the wheel.

“It may seem harmless when you are replying to a text, answering a call or using an app, but the truth is your actions could kill and cause untold misery to others.”

RAC Research

'The RAC has welcomed the move after publishing research that shows handheld mobile phone use during driving is “at epidemic proportions”. Of the 1,700 people questioned by the motoring organisation, 14% said they had even taken photos and made films while driving.

Department for Transport figures show that a driver impaired or distracted by their phone was a contributory factor in 492 accidents in Britain in 2014, including 21 that were fatal and 84 classed as serious.

Road safety spokesman Pete Williams 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.”

Convictions

Darrell Martin, whose brother was killed by a driver on his phone, has a different point of view. Mr Martin told BBC Radio 5 Live: "For the majority of people it will just be another expensive [bit] of motoring, it's not really a deterrent is it?

"Six points isn't the same as the immediate ban with drink driving."

His brother, cyclist Lee Martin, was killed when he was hit by a van driven by Christopher Gard in 2015.

Gard, 30, from Alton, Hampshire, was jailed for nine years after admitting causing death by dangerous driving. The 30-year-old had at least six previous convictions for using a phone at the wheel.

"If you can't live by a few rules that are not going to make you into a killer, then can you not drive please, because it's not much to ask," Mr Martin said.

"Just put your phone down... the text message that killed my brother, the bloke was writing about he was going home to meet his mate and take his dog for a walk.

"That's the end of my brother's life... it's pointless, absolutely pointless."

A lorry driver who fatally crashed into an off-duty police officer's car in June 2014 was also jailed.

Danny Warby, 28, received six years in prison after his 13.6-tonne vehicle hit Det Con Sharon Garrett in Cambridgeshire, seconds after he had opened a text message. Mrs Garrett was pronounced dead at the scene. And on the other side Jane Allen told the BBC her son Shaun had paid "the ultimate price" when he died in a crash after sending a text while driving.

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