New Punishments For Using A Mobile Phone While Driving From March 1st
Since 2003 using a hand held mobile phone while behind the wheel has been illegal. But, since then phone technology has moved beyond a game of snake and offers instant access to the internet and our social media sites, making it ever so tempting to sneak a peek when we know we should keep our eyes on the road.
A recent survey conducted by the RAC found an increase in mobile phone use while driving. In 2014 8% of drivers admitted using their phone while driving, this figure rose to 31% in 2016. Similarly, in 2014 only 7% of drivers reported sending or checking a text while driving, this figure had risen to 19% by 2016.
These figures demonstrate that attitudes towards using a mobile while driving are still a long way from the socially unacceptable view of drinking and driving, but there is good reason for leaving your phone alone in the car. Statistics released by the Department of Transport show that in the last 10 years around 200 people have been killed in a vehicle accident that involved a driver using a mobile phone.
As drivers, don’t seem to want to change their behaviour on their own terms, the Government has introduced new harsher punishments for those who are caught using their mobile phone while behind the wheel from March 1st 2017 to act as a stronger deterrent.
If you were caught using a mobile phone while driving under the current law you would receive 3 penalty points and a maximum fine of £100. You may also be offered the chance to attend a ‘Driver Improvement Course’. If you choose this option, it would mean paying for the course rather than receiving a fine and not receiving any penalty points. This option was so popular the RAC found in 2015 63% of drivers opted to go on the course, in what is seen as the soft punishment option.
The new laws to begin in March, prove the Government has toughened up! No more days attending courses, the 'Driver Improvement Course' option has been removed completely for those caught using a phone. Every person caught will now receive:
- 6 penalty points and
- a maximum fine of £200.
This increase in points received should be of note to new drivers who will lose their licence if they receive 6 points within their first 2 years of driving. For more experienced drivers, potentially 2 phone calls to take you to the maximum 12 points and you could be banned from driving.
How many of you use the time it takes for the lights to turn from red to green to check for Facebook notifications or the latest WhatsApp message? You are breaking the law even if your vehicle is stationary. The law applies to any time a car is on the road with the engine turned on. It also applies to any person who is supervising a learner driver, you may not have your hands on the wheel, but they definitely should not be typing out a tweet. The only time you can use your phone whilst in your vehicle under the following conditions:
- if you are parked safely
- there is an emergency in which you need to call 999 or 112 and it would be unsafe or impractical to stop.
Further research by the RAC has found 80% of respondents support the harder punishments and 35% felt the new punishments were still too lenient.
What do you think? Do you believe the new punishments will deter drivers from using their mobile phones? Do you think something else should be done?
Keep up to date with the latest road safety changes - New Child Car Seat Regulations from March 2017
The comments above do not necessarily reflect Rivervale's views unless clearly stated.
23 February 2017
Written by Natalie Faughy