The Law is Changing - New Punishments Announced for those who use their Phone at the Wheel
The RAC report on Motoring 2016 has revealed how out of control our obsession with our mobile phones has become, as well as how increasingly relaxed our attitudes are becoming towards their use at the wheel. Now the law is changing to make sure drivers keep their hands on the wheel instead of on their phones.
Back in 2014 8% of drivers admitted to using their phone while they should have been concentrating on driving. Fast forward to 2016 and this figure has jumped to 31%. It’s not just calls some drivers are taking in the car – 19% are texting, sending an email or posting to social media and 14% admit to taking photos or videos while they should have their eyes on the road.
When translating these percentages to drivers on the road, these figures equate to 11 million drivers talking on their mobile while driving and 5 million taking pictures. These numbers are alarming when considering research shows that a driver’s reaction time is up to 50% slower than normal when using a mobile
Drivers are increasingly feeling it is safe to check their phone when stuck in traffic with 20% admitting they use this stationary time to check social media. Even though using your phone while stationary if the engine is on is still breaking the law.
The current penalty for being caught on your phone while driving is a £100 on the spot fine and 3 penalty points on your driving licence, but that is about to change.
The Government has announced new plans to crack down on using a mobile phone while driving.
- The fine will double to a £200 on the spot fine
- Penalty points will double to 6. This means being caught twice will reach the 12 point limit on a licence, which will result in a minimum 6 month ban from driving and a possible £1000 fine.
- A new driver with under 2 years’ experience faces different rules on how many points they accrue on a licence, the maximum is 6 and then the licence is revoked. This means if a new driver is caught once using their mobile phone behind the wheel they will lose their licence. This driver would then need to reapply for a provisional licence and take their theory and practical driving tests again.
The Department of Transport expect the changes in the law to come into force in the first half of 2017.
Peter Williams, road safety spokesman for the RAC has 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.”
Despite the increasing number of motorists admitting to using their phone at the wheel, the number of those being caught is actually decreasing. In 2015 just under 30,000 drivers were fined compared to a much larger 123,000 in 2011. Many blame this decline on the decreasing number of road policing officers, so believe a change in the law is pointless unless it can be properly enforced.
Do you think the punishments for using a phone while driving are enough?
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19 September 2016
Written by Natalie Faughy