Stricter penalties in effect for mobile use while driving


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Penalty points increase from 3 to 6 to deter drivers from using their phones behind the wheel

Have you heard about the Government’s increase of penalties for the use of mobile phone devices while driving? Here’s why you may want to think twice if you’re considering using your mobile device next time you’re in the driver’s seat.

There’s been another crackdown on drivers who decide to use their mobile phone behind the wheel. The Department of Transport has recently announced that there will be stricter penalties enforced on drivers, to be taking effect in the first half of 2017. The crackdown comes in light of a recent RAC survey, which determined that mobile phone use while behind the wheel is on the rise.

The new penalties have essentially been doubled from what the previous ones were. Drivers who are caught using their mobile device while driving will be hit with six points, instead of three, on their licence, and will also face a £200 fine, which was originally only £100. Government officials are hoping that the new legislation will make using a phone at the wheel a socially unacceptable habit, such as drink driving.

In talking about the recent efforts to help prevent mobile phone use while driving, Department of Transport secretary Chris Grayling explained, “We need to take responsibility for our actions and as drink or drug driving has become socially unacceptable, so must mobile phones at the wheel. It may seem harmless when you are replying to a text, answering a call or using an app, but the truth is your actions could kill and cause untold misery to others.”

The measures the Government has taken to help prevent and deter drivers from the use of mobile devices at the wheel sends a strong message to all drivers, particularly younger ones, to not use their mobile devices while they are in the driver’s seat. This measure is something that young drivers should particularly pay attention to as if they acquire 6 or more penalty points within 2 years of passing their test they will automatically lose their licence.

Ideally, this new effort towards encouraging drivers to refrain from using their mobile devices will not only help keep you and your passengers safe, but also help in keeping other driver’s safe as well.

What’s caused the increased penalties?

The RAC recently discovered a tremendous increase in mobile phone use while driving a car. The report reveals that the number of people admitting to using a phone while driving has risen from 8% in 2014 to 31%. Furthermore, respondents indicated that more drivers are texting, emailing and using social media while driving – with an increase from 9% in 2014 to 19% today.

In light of the increase in mobile phone use in the driver’s seat, the RAC has encouraged the Department of Transport to take action. RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams explained, “With compliance on some traffic laws including the use of handheld mobile phones seemingly getting worse, the RAC calls for an end to cuts to the dedicated roads policing and urges the Government and Chief Constables to give greater priority to enforcement of road traffic laws.”

Tips to avoiding the temptation of using mobile devices

From 2007 to present day, there have been just over 58,000 mobile phone convictions (CU80s) recorded among Admiral drivers. Of those convictions, just over 74% of them were from male drivers while only nearly 26% were female. In early 2017 when the new legislation takes effect, instead of having 3 points added to their driving licence and a £100 fine, motorists will now face 6 points as well as a £200 fine.

At Admiral, we want to make sure that you’re always staying safe on the roads and avoiding any easily preventable points on your driving record.

We all know that it’s quite tempting to send that one quick text to a friend, or to check your email while you’re waiting at a traffic light, but the implications for using your phone while driving are not only costly, but can also be serious and even deadly. We’ve put together some top tips to help you avoid using your mobile phone while driving:

  • If you can, turn your phone off before you start driving
  • Even if you’re using a hands-free device, it’s best that you refrain from making or answering calls while driving - even hands-free calls can distract drivers
  • Should you need to use your mobile device for any reason, park in safe area to do so and do not park on the hard shoulder of a motorway
  • If you know another person is driving, don’t call them as it may be distracting. Should you call someone and they tell you that they are driving, ask them to call you back when they are parked in a safe area
  • Remember, you can use hands-free phones and sat-navs while you’re driving, however if the police think you’re distracted or not in control of your vehicle you could still get stopped and penalised

Can I use hands-free and wearable technology while driving?

Even though it is an offence to drive using a hand-held mobile phone while driving, you can still use hands-free devices, but there’s a catch. The important thing to remember is that if you seem to not be in control of your vehicle or that you are driving dangerously there’s a risk that you could be penalised for that, and the penalties are the same as if you were using a hand-held phone.

With technology increasingly becoming more adaptive for our everyday lives, things like wearable technology (i.e. Apple Watch) are a growing danger for motorists behind the wheel. As a result, similar measures are in effect to deter drivers from using any wearable technology while operating their vehicle.

Unfortunately, the laws aren’t as entirely as black and white as they are with hand-held mobile devices – particularly since things like Apple Watches are considered to be between hand-held and hands-free. This means that many scenarios are handled on a case by case basis. If drivers are found to be using a device like an Apple Watch and are also driving dangerously, they may certainly be fined or even face penalty points.

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