The Government has launched a consultation to gauge opinion on increasing the penalties for using mobile phones while driving. The consultation makes the following proposals:
- Increasing the fixed penalty notice for using a hand-held mobile phone from £100 to £150
- Increasing the penalty points for using a hand-held mobile phone from 3 to 4 points for non-HGV drivers and from 3 to 6 points for HGV drivers
- Most drivers will be offered educational courses rather than the fine and/or points at the police’s discretion.
The consultation will be welcomed by road safety groups as research has shown that the use of hand-held mobile phones increases reaction times significantly as well as the risk of accidents. Government statistics in 2014, for example, showed that using mobile phones was a contributory factor in 21 fatal road traffic accidents.
The consultation is also likely to receive public support as 73% of those who took part in a YouGov poll conducted in 2014 supported doubling the penalty points for such offences. Surveys by the RAC and Think! also revealed that over a third of people think that the use of hand-held mobile phones was one of the most important issues for road safety.
William Broadbent of the Penningtons Manches personal injury team commented: “We would welcome a tougher stance against the use of hand-held mobile phones while driving as many drivers do not appear to realise the risks. But we should also be looking more widely at the use of technology in cars. Is a driver talking on a hands-free kit paying any more attention to the road?”