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Tougher penalties lined up for mobile phone use at the wheel

Date: 04 January 2017   |   Author: James Richardson

The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced tougher penalties for drivers caught using their mobile phone handsets at the wheel following a public consultation.

The proposed changes include increasing the number of penalty points applied to the driver's licence from three to four, while also increasing the applicable fine from £100 to £150. However, HGV drivers would be slapped with six points and first-time offenders would be required to attend an educational course as well.

Out of the 4,347 responses to the consultation, 99% agreed that driving while using a mobile phone is a dangerous activity and 96% agreed that raising the fine from £100 to £150 was also the correct thing to do.

According to the DfT, mobile phone use at the wheel was responsible for 21 fatalities and 84 serious accidents on the roads in 2014.

In light of this, road safety campaigners have welcomed the proposals.

Neil Greig, director of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart responded by saying: "Addressing the growing problem of smartphone use whilst driving will require a combination of enforcement and education as well as drivers, passengers, companies and individuals taking more responsibility.

"We also want to see car companies, mobile phone makers and social media providers working together to develop technical solutions to hand held mobile phone use in vehicles."

"The Home Office must also review its policing priorities to ensure they reflect the risks that new technology can bring on the road."