Government Takes Action Against Mobile Use Behind the Wheel
Politicians are proposing to increase the penalties which people face if they are found to have used their mobile device whilst driving in the UK.
At the moment, there is a £100 fine as well as three penalty points handed down to any driver who is caught red-handed with their handset. But the Department for Transport is seeking to increase this to £150 and four penalty points in order to dissuade people from participating in this illegal and dangerous activity.
It has only been three years since the original £60 fine was increased to its current £100 level. But boosting the number of penalty points that mobile-using drivers get hit with is thought to be more of a disincentive than is currently the case.
With four penalty points on the line each time a mobile user is caught behind the wheel, it would only take three such incidents for a full driving disqualification to be handed out to the perpetrators.
Figures from the DVLA reveal that nationally there are almost 400 drivers who have been caught by the police using their mobile phones three times in a row. And under the new legislation, all of these people would no longer be able to hold a UK licence.
Things are getting even stricter for drivers of HGVs, with the DfT instigating a plan to increase the number of penalty points given for a single incident of mobile use to six. So upon being caught a second time, a commercial driver would lose their licence and their livelihood in one fell swoop.
Police spokesperson Suzette Davenport fears that even the latest proposals from the government designed to stem mobile use on the UK’s roads will not be enough to put people off the idea of answering a call or sending a text while driving. And she is amongst a group of experts who believe that all people who drive for business purposes, whether or not they are in charge of an HGV, should be subjected to the two strikes and out approach.
Davenport told Auto Express that business drivers should face limited bans if they are caught twice within a specific period, since she believes this would be the only real change to legislation which would subsequently instil a change of habit in repeat offenders.
Interestingly, the government has actually found that people are far more concerned about the problems they would face if their licence was taken away from them than they are about the potential of being fined for mobile use behind the wheel. And while £150 is a significant sum for many people, it is still perhaps not enough to be a true deterrent.
Of course, the four penalty points which will soon be given to drivers who commit this offence are not the only option available to those who are caught using a mobile behind the wheel for the first time; the DfT’s proposal also points out that it is eager to convince more people to take training courses in lieu of punishment.
In a statement from Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, emphasis was placed on the idea that the new approach to dealing with mobile use on the roads of the UK is based around common sense and practical concerns.
Although these rule changes are not yet enshrined in law, with the consultation on the proposals set to conclude in March, it seems likely that drivers will soon face steeper penalties for mobile use behind the wheel. And in fact, with increased pressure from industry bodies and safety campaigners, there may yet be other movements which make the law relating to this activity even less lenient.
In the meantime, drivers can use the Bluetooth technology built into many modern cars in order to access features of their smartphone without taking their eyes off the road or their hands off the wheel.