Tough new penalties for illegal mobile phone use from 27 February 2007
Motorists face tough new penalties for breaking the law by using a hand-held mobile phone while driving from February 27 2007. From that date, the fixed penalty will for the first time include the award of three penalty points as well as doubling the fine to £60.
Announcing this recently, Transport Secretary Douglas Alexander said:
"Research shows that talking on a mobile phone while driving affects your concentration and ability to react to dangerous situations. It's quite simple - it's impossible to do two things at once and do them well. That is why in December 2003 we introduced new laws preventing motorists from driving while using a hand-held mobile.
There have been a number of research reports identifying the danger of using any mobile phone while driving - for example, TRL Ltd's report for Direct Line Insurance which demonstrated it is even more dangerous than drink driving. As well as this the Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones covered the risks in their report on Mobile Phones and Health in 2000 - see paragraphs 5.201 to 5.214, pages 86 to 90 for a summary of research worldwide - available online at www.iegmp.org.uk/report/text.htm
Using includes making or receiving calls, pictures, text messaging or accessing the Internet. Provided that hands-free equipment can be operated without holding, its use is not prohibited. However, drivers who drive poorly as a result of distraction caused by using a hands-free phone continue to risk prosecution for not having proper control of their vehicle and the resulting penalties are exactly the same as for the hand-held phone offence. Driving carelessly or dangerously when using any phone can result in disqualification, a large fine, and up to two years imprisonment.
Advice for Employers
If you are an employer, you may also be prosecuted if you require your employees to use a hand-held mobile phone when driving to make or to receive calls. It is an offence to cause or permit the use of a hand-held mobile phone when driving. It is also an offence to cause or permit a driver not to have proper control of a vehicle.
The message is, the driver must pull over to a safe location and stop before using a mobile phone on the roads. The only exception is if a driver needs to call 999.
Further information can be found on the Department for Transport’s road safety website www.thinkroadsafety.gov.uk