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Drivers caught using their mobile phone at the wheel will automatically receive penalty points

View profile for Andy Munden
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In September, the government announced that fines and penalty points were to increase for drivers who were caught using their mobile phone behind the wheel, with fines increasing from £100 to £200 and penalty points changing from 3 points to 6 points.  A new statement released this week from the Department for Transport (DfT) demonstrates how seriously the government is taking this issue as they announce proposals that drivers will no longer be given the option to attend a remedial driving course as they are now, and will automatically receive the penalty points.

Mobile phone use “socially unacceptable”

The devastation that can be caused by drivers using their mobile phone while driving was highlighted only last month with the jailing of Tomasz Kroker, a lorry driver who killed a mother and three children on the A34 in Berkshire.  Mr Kroker was distracted while changing the music on his phone. 

“Prime Minister, Theresa May, has spoken about her wish to make using a mobile phone while driving as socially unacceptable as drink-driving; a sentiment I whole-heartedly share,” comments Andy Munden, Personal Injury Partner at Warner Goodman LLP.  “Having the option to go on a driving course is not a sufficient deterrent when you are taking yours and others lives into your own hands.  People need to reconsider their actions when their phone goes off while they are driving; is it worth risking lives just to answer the phone?”

Dangerous driving consultation

As well as these plans, ministers are also launching a consultation on dangerous driving offences by the end of the year to consider the appropriate punishments for those who kill or injury other road users while using their mobile phone.  “Department for Transport figures show that a driver distracted by using their phone was a contributory factor in 440 road accidents last year in Britain.  Unfortunately 22 of those were fatal and 75 were considered serious”, continues Andy. 

While the number of fines being handed out to drivers has fallen by 84% since 2011, it’s believed by motoring groups that this is not due to less people using their phone, but less full-time road policing officers available to catch them. 

“This hypothesis is supported by a recent RAC survey showing 31% of drivers, 11 million people, use their mobile phones while driving; an increase of 8% since 2014,” concludes Andy.  “7% of those surveyed stated they did it because they knew they could get away with it, and the same survey showed more people than ever think it’s acceptable to take a call while driving; a concerning statement when you consider what could happen.  Road accidents happen every day, but they can be so easily avoided if drivers take the right measures to not be distracted by their mobile devices.  We hope that these proposals from government are the first step towards reducing the number of accidents caused in this way.”

For more information about the law surrounding mobile use when driving, you can visit the government website here.  Alternatively, you can find out more about Warner Goodman’s Injury team here

ENDS

This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.