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If government plans are approved fines for mobile phone use could increase by 50%, but campaigners warn enforcement is key

Motorists who use a phone while driving could face stiffer penalties if government plans are approved.

The government is proposing to increase penalty fines for those driving while using mobile phones from £100 to £150, and license points from three to four, or from three to six for drivers of larger vehicles, including HGVs.

While the aim of making mobile phone driving socially taboo has been welcomed, concerns have been raised that without enforcement the changes will have limited impact. Others believe the new penalties are still too low.

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Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, says: "Using a mobile phone at the wheel is reckless and costs lives - I want to see it become a social taboo like not wearing a seatbelt.

"The message is clear: keep your hands on the wheel, not your phone. If you keep taking calls while at the wheel, you could end up being banned from the road."

According to government figures mobile phone use was a contributing factor in 21 fatal collisions and 84 serious collisions in 2014.

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However, several road safety campaigners say without enforcement the changes will have limited impact. 

Tim Shallcross, from the Institute of Advanced Motorists, is quoted by the BBC saying previous increases in fines had not changed driving behaviour.

He said: "The Department for Transport's own research this year showed that when they doubled the penalty from £50 to £100 in 2013 it made no discernible difference whatsoever.”

"What deters people from using mobile phones is the fear of being caught and, frankly, with fewer police on the roads that possibility is becoming less and less."

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Road safety charity, Brake, says driving with a mobile phone is as dangerous as drink driving in terms of the effect on reaction times.

Stop Killing Cyclists believes the fines are still too low.