Health & Safety

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Penalties Double: Road Safety Clamp Down

1 February 2017

Drivers who use their mobile phones while driving will receive six penalty points and a £200 fine from 1 March 2017, even if it is their first offence, as the Government seeks to clamp down on dangerous driving.

driver using mobile phone

A national campaign by Police has begun to increase the enforcement on people who use their mobile phones while driving in the run up to 1 March 2017, when the Government introduces stricter penalties for the offence.

A report published by the RAC in September 2016 stated that 31% of drivers now admit to using a mobile phone when driving, up from 8% in 2014. All Drivers have a fundamental responsibility to behave with due care and attention, drive safely and ensure they do not put themselves or others in danger.

National Campaign

The current law means that anyone caught using a mobile phone while driving will be dealt with by means of a traffic offence report, with a £100 fine and 3 penalty points. In more serious cases, police officers have powers to prosecute drivers for careless or dangerous driving and drivers may also be asked to provide a breath test.

A national Police campaign has been launched in the run up to the legislative change, with police running targeted operations against drivers on their mobile phones and educational campaigns to warn of its dangers.

The police operations include:

  • targeted patrols using unmarked vans, high vantage points and helmet cams to catch offenders;
  • partnership with local authorities and emergency services to deter people from taking the risks;
  • innovative digital campaigns to communicate that the risks are more serious than people think;
  • community 'spotters' to highlight hotspots and repeat offenders to Police;
  • advising the public about changes to penalties for mobile phone use while driving from 1 March 2017.

In November 2016, 36 Police forces across the country took part in another campaign against mobile phone driving offences, stopping 10,012 vehicles and detecting nearly 8,000 mobile phone offences, the highest ever total for a week of enforcement on distraction driving. The current Legislation was introduced back in 2003 which prohibits the use of hand held mobile phones whilst driving. But with the advances in hand held devices and the worrying increases in the use of these devices at the wheel, the law is now being changed again.

In March 2017 a change of the law will take place to reflect the severity of this offence. Not only will those caught get a £200 fixed penalty fine, but if they are caught twice and accrue 12 points they will automatically appear in court and face a fine of up to £1,000 and a driving ban of up to six months.

One of the biggest changes is that new drivers could face having their licenses revoked after the first offence, and to regain their license must reapply for a Provisional Driverís License and may only drive as a learner until they pass further theory and practical tests. This process would run up a bill of over £100 on top of the £200 fine so not only is it dangerous, it'll be a very expensive mistake to make.

Dangers of Mobile Phone Use

There is growing evidence that the use of mobile phones is becoming a more common contributory causation factor in many serious collisions. It is the mental distraction more than the physical distraction that causes the problems. The Government, Police and Road Safety Campaigning Organisations want Drivers to think about the dangers of using a mobile phone at the wheel and not to put their, or other people's, lives at risk.

Although it is currently legal to use hands free kits, this still causes a similar mental distraction to that of a hand held mobile phone and the latest version of the Highway Code, revised in 2007, actively discourages the use of hands free kits. Even if you're using a hands-free phone Drivers should avoid making or answering calls when driving. All phone calls distract drivers' attention from the road. Additionally people should not call other people when they're driving. If you call someone and they tell you they are driving, ask them to call you back when they have parked up safely.

Police are hoping to:

  • Reduce the incidence of motorists using their mobile phones whilst driving.
  • Improve driver attitude and behaviour with a view to preventing road collisions occurring.
  • Reduce casualties resulting from road collisions, particularly those resulting in fatal or serious injuries.
  • Raise awareness amongst motorists about the potential consequences of driving whilst using a hand held or hands free mobile phone.

Using Mobile Phones When Driving - The Law

  • It's illegal to ride a motorcycle or drive using hand-held phones or similar devices.
  • The rules are the same if you're stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic.
  • It is also illegal to use a hand-held phone or similar device when supervising a learner driver or rider.

Penalties For Using Your Phone While Driving

  • The current law states that you can get an automatic fixed penalty notice if you're caught using a hand-held phone while driving or riding. You'll get three penalty points on your License and a fine of £100. In March this will double to Six Penalty Points on your License and a Fine of £200.

When You Can use a Phone in Your Vehicle

If you're the driver, you can only use your phone in a vehicle:

  • If you need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it's unsafe or impractical to stop.
  • If you are safely parked.

Using Hands-free Devices When Driving

  • You can use hands-free phones, satellite navigation systems and two-way radios when you're driving or riding. But if the police think you're distracted and not in control of your vehicle you could still get stopped and penalised.

Being stopped by the police while driving: your rights

  • The police can stop a vehicle for any reason. If they ask you to stop, you should always pull over. You're breaking the law if you don't.