The Department of Transport has recently announced new tougher laws to deter drivers from using handheld phones behind the wheel. Set to be introduced in early 2017, the harsher punishment includes a whopping six points on licenses and a fine of £200.
The new penalties for drivers are double the previous ones, which the DfT hope will be enough to crack down on the dangerous act. Studies have shown a significant rise in people using their phones behind the wheel, which is why stricter legislation is needed. Answering a phone call, sending a text or even taking selfies while driving is becoming the social norm, instead of being widely unacceptable.
Doing absolutely anything on your phone while driving is a distraction, which can have devastating consequences. The younger, more tech-savvy generation are obviously more comfortable using their phones behind the wheel, but it’s these new drivers that need to concentrate the most. UK charity IAM RoadSmart has revealed that 15% of 18-25 year olds admit to taking selfies behind the wheel, while the number between 25-35 year olds is almost 20%.
Using a phone behind the wheel needs to be considered just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Let’s take a look at some of the current penalties for driving offences, and where the new mobile phone usage penalty fits in.
Points deducted off your license for:
Driving when unfit through drugs or alcohol: 3-11
Driving without insurance: 6-8
Using a handheld phone while in charge of a vehicle: 3
Many offences come with other punishments too:
Speeding: heavy fine and a possible driving ban
Driving when unfit through drugs or alcohol: You could face a £5,000 fine and a six month prison sentence
Driving without insurance: A fine between £200-£5,000
Using a handheld phone while in charge of a vehicle: £100 fine
As you can see under current driving offence laws, using a mobile carries more lenient punishment than other offences – but can be just as dangerous. According to IAM RoadSmart, texting or calling behind the wheel can increase reaction times by up to 35%. Their research also shows that using a phone can be more distracting than the effects of alcohol or cannabis in a driver’s system. Handheld phone usage can lead to accidents which are totally avoidable.
NEW penalty from next year:
Using a handheld phone while in charge of a vehicle: £200 spot fine and 6 points
Don’t get caught out – leave the phone in your bag while driving.