After a wave of crackdowns which saw 8,000 drivers caught using handheld phones in one week, the new tougher rulings against drivers caught using their mobile phones are to come into effect from today. After the proposals were released last November, they have received massive support in an aim to reduce accidents and overall improve road safety by increasing the punishment as a deterrent to current offenders.
Overall, the penalty for being caught at the wheel is doubling, meaning that offenders will now be slapped with a £200 fine and receive six points on their licence - totalling half of the points needed to enforce a driving ban on experienced licence holders.
This increase in points means that drivers who have held their licence for less than two years will face an immediate disqualification as they will reach the maximum threshold. In addition to this, novice drivers will have to buy a new provisional licence and then re-sit, and pay for, both their practical and theory driving tests before they are allowed to drive again after the ban.
The new laws have also made it crystal clear of the circumstances under which you will be punished for using your phone while driving, which includes; using your phone to make a call, using the phone on loudspeaker, texting, filming, taking a picture or using the internet. And no, you can't use your phone while stopped at a light or in traffic - no excuse!
The only exception is when you are calling during an emergency, on 999 or 112 if it is safe or impractical to stop.
Using hands-free kits and phone-mounts for satnavs remain legal, however the mount must remain at a 45-degree angle to the driver and the same law of not re-programming or touching the device while in motion remains.
Nick Lloyd, the road safety manager at RoSPA (the Royal Society For The Prevention of Accidents) welcomes the new restrictions, hoping that they will act as a stronger deterrent to new and younger motorists to leave their phone alone while driving;
“Taking your theory and practical driving tests can be an expensive and stressful time, so imagine having to go through it all again for one moment of stupidity. We understand how difficult it can be to ignore your mobile phone, but there’s not a single reason that will excuse putting people’s lives at risk, and hopefully these new stricter penalties will mean drivers think twice.”
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