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Government could impose harsher penalties on mobile phone drivers

Date: 05 January 2016   |   Author: Daniel Puddicombe

The Government has proposed greater penalties for those who are caught using hand-held mobile phones while driving.

Announced as part of the Department for Transport's road safety statement last month, the new proposals would see motorists facing an increase from the current three penalty points to four, while the fixed penalty notice for phone-driving motorists will rise from £100 to £150.

The Government also proposed a £750,000 grant for police forces in England and Wales to crack down on drug drivers in the report, which replaces its Road Safety Strategy.

Meanwhile, learner drivers will be offered the chance to drive on motorways for the first time, in an attempt to make them safer on the largest roads in the UK once they have passed their test."Britain has some of the safest roads in the world but we are always looking to improve that record," transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said.

"Today we are delivering common sense proposals that balance tougher penalties for dangerous drivers with practical steps to help youngsters and other more vulnerable groups stay safe on our roads," he added.

However road safety charity Brake said it was 'disappointed' the new statement does not include road accident casualty reduction targets.

"There is some important recognition in this statement of what good practice in road safety looks like, and the fact that road safety is an issue central to public health and sustainability - and that by improving road safety we can make economic gains too," Alice Bailey, campaigns officer at Brake said.

"Yet we're disappointed that the government has failed to include casualty reduction targets, an ambitious vision, or more decisive action on issues like young driver safety, pedestrian safety or drink driving, all of which remain desperately important," she added.

Michael Lloyd, director of AA Insurance, welcomed the proposed increase in penalties for using a mobile phone: "Drivers using a hand-held mobile phone are at four times greater risk of having a crash than a driver not using one and I'm delighted that the penalty will now better reflect the seriousness of this offence."

"While drivers may mistakenly exceed a speed limit, no-one uses a hand-held phone by mistake.  It's a deliberate act that seriously diverts attention from driving, significantly heightening the risk of a crash," he added.