Tough new penalties for people driving while using a mobile phone introduced

Tougher penalties for drivers illegally using phones while driving have come into force today (1 march).
The fixed penalty for using a handheld mobile at the wheel has now doubled from £100 to £200, and drivers will now get six penalty points instead of three.
New drivers caught texting at the wheel within two years of passing their test, will now lose their licence and have to retake the test.
This follows startling figures like those from the RAC which revealed 26% of drivers admitted to checking texts, emails and social media while driving, rising to 47% while stopped but with the engine still running. A fifth (19%) said they text or post messages while driving, and 14% said they take photo and video. 31% admit to using a handheld phone for phone calls while driving, which goes up to 48% when stopped.
RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: “We recognise that tackling a problem as complex as the UK’s mobile phone one was going to require a huge amount of effort. Tougher laws, as introduced today, combined with targeted enforcement by police forces and a sustained package of education telling drivers about the risks of driving distracted are all crucial.
“At the same time, encouraging motorists to take personal responsibility for their actions – and to really think about the relationship they have with their smart phone when they get in the driver’s seat – needs to be at the heart of a campaign to change their behaviour.
“Choosing to use a handheld phone at the wheel is a personal decision, and so is choosing to give up the habit. The more individual drivers, businesses and other organisations we can get making the promise, the greater motivation others will have to change their behaviour – and together the roads can be made a safer place.”
National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Roads Policing, Chief Constable Suzette Davenport said: “Across this week officers will continue to use innovative and intelligence-led tactics to catch and penalise people who are driving while distracted by a mobile phone. However, this is an attitudinal problem that we cannot simply enforce away by putting more officers on the roads.
“This issue has to begin with personal responsibility by drivers. We know that people are more likely to report other drivers using a phone than to view themselves as guilty of it. That has to change.
“Tougher penalties are a step in the right direction, but police forces and partners are working this week to make it socially unacceptable to use a mobile phone at the wheel. It’s about more than what you might have to pay as a penalty – you could hurt or kill an innocent person on the roads by checking a text or taking a call.
“Don’t do it – and don’t let others take the risk either.”
Drivers can make a promise today to Be Phone Smart by visiting BePhoneSmart.uk.
The handheld mobile phone law: a timeline

  • December 2003 – Offence of using a handheld phone at the wheel comes into effect
  • February 2007 – New penalties for the offence introduced
  • March 2016 – Consultation on increasing fixed penalty notice and penalty points for drivers using a handheld phone while driving ends
  • 15 September 2016 – RAC Report on Motoring research highlights scale of handheld mobile phone use by drivers
  • 17 September 2016 – Government responds and announces increase in penalty points and fixed penalty notices
  • 1 March 2017 – new penalties for illegal phone use in England, Wales and Scotland come in: six points and a £200 fine; Government THINK! campaign begins; BePhoneSmart.uk launches