Penalty points and fines for driving while using mobile phones have both doubled from today (1 March), with new drivers potentially losing their licence for a single offence.
The standard penalty for using a phone while driving is now 6 points on a licence and a £200 fine – up from 3 points and £100. Motorists caught using their mobile twice or accruing 12 points will face magistrates’ court, being disqualified and fines of up to £1,000.
Penalties for using a phone while driving have doubled
Drivers within two years of passing their test risk having their licence revoked if caught just once. The Department for Transport also warned that lorry and bus drivers can be suspended if caught.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling said: ‘Our message is simple and clear: do not get distracted by your mobile phone while driving. It may seem innocent, but holding and using your phone at the wheel risks serious injury and even death to yourself and other road users.’
The Government has launched a new THINK! advertising campaign to warn drivers of the new penalties and the risks.
To coincide with the changes, police forces across the country have also launched a further week long crackdown on drivers using mobiles.
Around 3,600 drivers were handed penalties in the last enforcement week in January. However, a campaign in November saw nearly 8,000 offences detected in a week.
The RAC has launched a website BePhoneSmart.uk where drivers can make an online pledge to keep to the law and not use a handheld phone while driving – or when stopped in traffic – ‘in order to end the epidemic of handheld phone use’.
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.’