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Tougher mobile phone penalties to be introduced in 1 March

Tougher mobile phone penalties to be introduced in 1 March

Drivers caught using their mobile phones at the wheel from Wednesday, 1 March, 2017 will receive six penalty points and a £200 fine.

In advance of the introduction of the tougher penalties, one safety organisation has called on business drivers to better plan their journeys so the temptation to use a phone while driving is removed.  

The doubling of penalties for using a hand-held mobile phone was originally confirmed by the government last November. The Department for Transport has now confirmed when the tougher law will be introduced, with further details announced nearer the 1 March date.  

The fine doubles to £200 but with licence penalty points doubled to six - and no alternative of ‘driver education’ to avoid points - any drivers with existing licence endorsements face increased risk of a driving ban that could cost them their job and livelihood.  

The move follows several high-profile cases of fatalities caused by drivers using mobile phones at the wheel.

Under the new penalties younger drivers are at great risk of being stripped of their licence and having to resit their theory and practical tests. Any car or van driver clocking up six points for any offences within two years of gaining their licence faces an automatic disqualification and their licence rescinded. The same limit applies to HGV and bus drivers.   GEM Motoring Assist said it was pleased the government had recognised the severity of the offence, especially as more and more evidence became available to link mobile phone use with serious collisions.  

GEM road safety officer Neil Worth said: “There is serious risk in the physical distraction of holding a phone while driving. But there is also the risk of the mental distraction every driver faces when trying to do something else other than drive.  

“We all have 100% concentration available at any one time; anyone deliberately allowing some of that concentration to be directed at something other than the driving task is comprising safety.”  

GEM said it was keen to ensure that every driver who might be tempted to use a phone at the wheel took a few minutes before a journey to make important calls or check voice messages and emails. They could then switch the phone off and store it way out of reach to remove any risk of reaching for it while driving.  
Mr Worth said: “A bit of planning is what’s needed, and that can make a huge difference for safety. Anyone in a high-pressure working environment needs the support of colleagues and clients, so that we work together to remove the expectations on so many drivers to be available at all times. Let’s put safety first on every journey.”