As of today, drivers now face losing their license if they are caught using their mobile phones behind the wheel. In a survey conducted by the RAC one in four motorists (26%) admit to using their phone for texts, social media and emails whilst driving.
New penalties and fines have been doubled to £200 and six points on your license. The new measures have been prompted due to the amount of high profile cases and research suggesting that using phones whilst driving has become second nature to most.
For those within two years of passing their driving test, the illegal act could lead to six points or the revocation of their license. More experienced drivers could face losing their license if they receive 12 points within a three-year period.
Chris Grayling, Transport Secretary, hopes that the new and increased fixed penalties will act as a “strong deterrent” for those considering sending a text or making a phone call whilst driving, hoping the public mind-set will begin to see the act as “inexcusable as drink driving”.
Last month over 3,600 motorists were given penalties during an increased police focus on those driving whilst using a mobile phone. Police forces will now be conducting a seven-day crack down, increasing patrols to catch drivers in the act of using their mobiles.
Research as shown by the Transport Research Laboratory suggests that the reaction time for those driving and texting is twice as long as those who have been drinking. Most recent figures show motorists using mobiles whilst driving contributed to over 99 serious injuries and 22 deaths in 2015.
The Government’s road safety group Think! and the AA Charitable Trust have targeted drivers with a new campaign set to appear in cinemas, social media, billboards and radio conveying the message “You wouldn’t drink and drive. Don’t text and drive.” The visual advert is to show a drunken man suggesting he swap places with his sober girlfriend on the drive home who then proceeds to text whilst at the wheel. The campaign aims to try and change driver’s habits to think twice before picking up their phones.
“Recent statistics are said to show that using a mobile phone while driving is more likely to be the cause of an accident than drink driving. The Government has responded by making such use a specific offence. The definition of use of a mobile is very wide and includes “if held at some point during the course of making or receiving a call or of performing any other interactive communication function” that must include texting, photo messaging or accessing the internet.
While people become more aware of the dangers of phone use, all drivers need to be aware that any activity that distracts from the task of driving might mean that the driving standard has fallen below “that to be expected of a reasonably competent driver” leading to a possible charge of driving without due care and attention."
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