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Mobile phone penalties to increase

8 November 2016

The UK Department for Transport has published its plans to double the penalties for drivers using hand-held mobile phones along with a number of other measures to take action on the issue.

A government consultation found overwhelming support for increasing the fines and penalty points for drivers using hand-held mobile phones. DfT said it intends to lay legislation before Parliament as soon as possible to increase the fine from £100 to £200 and the penalty points from three to six for all drivers. This follows last week’s sentencing of a lorry driver who caused a crash that killed a mum and three children by looking at his mobile phone.

The plans, announced earlier this year, come in the wake of a consultation on hand-held mobile phone drivers that found clear support for change. Under the plans, the DFT would not differentiate between cars and HGVs, and drivers will face six penalty points regardless of vehicle type, despite 83% of respondents to the consultation saying they supported a specific offence for drivers for HGVs.

  • The DfT is also proposing that a remedial course is not offered to first-time offenders as an alternative to the FPN “in order to provide a strong deterrent and change behaviour”.
  • The move would mean that newly qualified drivers – who can only gain six points before being banned – could have their licences revoked if caught using their phone.
  • Drivers who are caught twice for the offence will automatically appear in court and face fines of up to £1,000 and at least a six-month driving ban.

The DfT also acknowledged strong public concern on the issue and said it is “willing to work with industry on technology that would encourage better and safer behaviour and we want to take full advantage rapidly developing in-car technology and where it can support safe driving behaviour”.

Fleet operators have an important role to play. Earlier this year, research carried out by TRL for the RAC Foundation that fleet operators could play a major role in spearheading the use of a drive-safe mode on motorists’ smartphones to cut down on driver distraction.

The DfT also confirmed it will launch a THINK! campaign on the dangers of mobile phone use while driving to raise awareness of the changes.

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