Penalties for using a hand-held mobile
The Government plans to double the penalties for using a hand-held mobile phone behind the wheel in the first half of 2017, it confirmed. Drivers in England, Scotland and Wales that (say) text or answer a call will receive six penalty points - rather than three as present – and the fine will increase from £100 up to £200.
Number of penalty points for a ban
Experienced motorists can be banned if they collect twelve points in total. Exceptions, however, include those that successfully argue a ban would cause undue hardship such as (say) loss of career. The Government confirmed that likely ban scenarios include:
- six month ban for receiving twelve, or more, points within three years;
- twelve month ban for receiving a second disqualification within three years;
- two year ban for receiving a third disqualification.
On this basis, six penalty points for using a hand-held mobile equates to a two strike and out rule. Motorists that are banned for fifty-six days or greater must later apply for a replacement licence and – perhaps – pass the practical/theory driving test too.
Drivers that passed the practical test within the last two years can be banned if they receive six points, in contrast. A single phone offence will, therefore, be enough for a ban. New drivers must resit both the practical and theory test to reclaim a licence.
Survey reveals driver behaviour
The RAC claimed that the number of motorists that use a hand-held mobile phone is of “epidemic proportions”. It added that attitudes have changed for the worse since 2014. Its 2016 research suggested:
- the percentage of motorists that claim it is “acceptable” to “take a quick call” is fourteen (compared to seven in 2014);
- the percentage that claim it is “safe” to check social media while stationary in traffic is twenty (compared to fourteen in 2014);
- the percentage of motorists that text, e-mail or post to social media is nineteen (compared to seven percent in 2014).
Pete Williams, RAC Road Safety Spokesman, said: ‘Toughening the fine and the penalty points 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. The decline in the numbers of dedicated road traffic police has only heightened the feeling that those who use a hand-held phone while driving simply get away with it”, Williams added.
Police ready to enforce new rules
Suzette Davenport, National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Roads Policing, said: “We will support these new measures with local action and national operations to keep our roads safe.” Ms Davenport continued: “Drivers also need to take responsibility and exert some social pressure on family and friends who take the risk”