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New driving penalties to launch from 1st March 2017

View profile for Andy Munden
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Last November, it was announced that the fines for drivers caught using their mobile phone behind the wheel was to increase, and now the date for this implementation has been announced.  Currently drivers who are caught receive a £100 fine and three penalty points, but from 1st March this year this will be increased to £200 and six penalty points. 

Mobile phone penalties

“This increase to six points carries a crucial meaning for both experienced and recently qualified drivers,” explains Andy Munden, Personal Injury Lawyer.  “For drivers who have recently qualified, their probation period restricts them to six points as the limit before having their licence revoked, so being caught just once will mean they lose their licence.  For experienced drivers this increases to nine points and so they may not feel as worried, however, if they are caught a second time and consequently have 12 points on their licence, they will automatically appear in court where they will face a fine of up to £1,000 and a driving ban of at least six months.”

As part of the new legislation from March, drivers of buses or goods vehicles could get a maximum fine of £2,500 if they are caught using their phone behind the wheel, and driver awareness courses will no longer be offered.

#itcanwait campaign

In preparation for the new regulations, police officers across Hampshire last week joined the national campaign, #itcanwait, to increase awareness of the changes across the country.  The week, led by the National Police Chief’s Council, was organised with the intention to improve driver attitudes around using a mobile phone behind the wheel, and raise awareness of the potentially fatal consequences.  In March there will be a second campaign which will focus more on enforcement of the laws. 

“During just one week in November last year, almost 8,000 drivers were caught using a mobile phone while driving, with more than 40 fines an hour being issued,” continues Andy.  “It has been illegal to use a mobile phone behind the wheel since December 2003, whether it is held in the drivers hand whilst driving or while stopped with the engine running, so at traffic lights or in a traffic jam. 

“More collisions are happening each year due to drivers being distracted at the wheel, and instead of reducing the number of those using their phone, it seems to be increasing.  An RAC survey in September last year showed that out of 1,714 motorists, 31% of them said they had used a handheld phone while driving, compared to just 8% in 2014.”

Mobile phone impact on driving ability

Being distracted by a phone can make a driver up to 15 times more likely to be involved in a collision, and research has shown it can be more distracting than being over the drink-drive limit as reaction times are slower than normal driving by up 50%.   Even hands-free kits can cause distractions, while answering, on the call itself and concluding the call. 

“Unfortunately people have an attitude that they won’t get caught, or that being in a road collision won’t happen to them,” concludes Andy.  “These new penalties are a step towards helping people realise that the law applies to everyone, and just how serious it is.  If you’re looking at your phone, you’re not looking at the cars around you.  We’ve seen too many times that it only takes a second for a road collision to happen so we urge drivers to switch their phone off while they are driving to ensure they have their full attention on the road, which could mean the difference between a safe journey or a fatal collision.”

If you have been in a road traffic collision and would like to speak to Andy or the Personal Injury team, you can contact them on 0800 91 92 30 or email injuryteam@warnergoodman.co.uk.

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.