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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.

More mobile phone use behind the wheel – but prosecutions for it are down

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.

‘Spy signs’ that detect drivers’ mobile phone use to be trialled in Sussex

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."

Number of drivers fined for illegally using mobile phones drop by a quarter

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.

30 comments

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tourdelound [169 posts] 1 year ago
6 likes

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

 

If this is the case, then why aren't the penalties the same as for drink driving? Of course we all know that if there's no one enforcing the law, ie a police presense on the roads, people will carry on doing as they please.

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antonio [1168 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

The law sucks, it seems it is barely enforcable, no matter what the fine. Scrap the law but if an accident or incident while using a mobile phone occurs then take away their driving licence for a minimum of twelve months, now that really will make them think. 

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oldstrath [922 posts] 1 year ago
8 likes

Simple. Require all cars to be fitted with blocking tecnology linked to the engine.. Confiscate and scrap any in default,  and take away the owners licence. Yes i know 'whar about the passenger's  right to phone', 'what about emergencies', and so tediously on. Not interested. Other people's right  to live ought to trump some idle twunt's right to make a phone call without stopping and getting out, and how many emergencies  really require you to phone from the comfort  of your car,  with the engine running?

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HarrogateSpa [500 posts] 1 year ago
5 likes

It's good that the government realises that this is a problem, but it seems unlikely that these measures will make a significant difference.

I see people on the phone, while they are driving, very regularly, and I don't get the impression that they feel that they are at risk of being caught. It does seem that enforcement is the issue.

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Karbon Kev [693 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

We're here again, the Government keeps on trying to inforce stiffer penalties, and yet these later ones still don't go far enough imo. People all over still take the piss and talk on mobs whilst driving.

 

Sadly, I don't think for a second this will make any difference.

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ron611087 [358 posts] 1 year ago
10 likes

Today on R4 a spokesman from the IAM said that the last increase in penalties for mobile phone never stopped drivers from using phones, and this increase is will probably have the same result. What's needed is not an increased penalty, but an increased risk of being caught.  

I fully agree with him.

With no police action on this I'm half tempted to take a drivers keys and cycle off with them...

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Leviathan [2868 posts] 1 year ago
4 likes

Seeing as there are already people driving around with 16 points on their licence, I don't think it will change attitudes. 

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mike the bike [980 posts] 1 year ago
7 likes
Leviathan wrote:

Seeing as there are already people driving around with 16 points on their licence, I don't think it will change attitudes. 

 

Sixteen?  Child's play for some of them.  My paper recently featured a driver who has collected - wait for it - wait for it - forty current points and has not been banned.  They are mostly for speeding but the magistrates are reluctant to enforce the law because his brief argues that his company will close down, making all his workers redundant.

Law?  What law?

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levermonkey [682 posts] 1 year ago
4 likes

Without dedicated and specialised Traffic Officers what is the point? Increasing the penalty is irrelevant unless you increase the chance of being caught. If you increase the chance of being caught then the existing penalty would suffice.

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pdw [64 posts] 1 year ago
4 likes

Yes, more enforcement is needed, but I think stricter penalties could also be effective.  If we had a ban for a first offence, then I think even with today's minimal enforcement many people would think twice before doing it.

What I don't understand is why we don't go straight for draconian penalties on this one.  Unlike just about every other motoring offence, it's not possible to use a phone whilst driving by accident or through a moment's inattention.  Even drink driving could be an honest misjudgement, particularly the morning after, but using a phone is a deliberate, conscious act.

What is the argument for keeping penalties so low?

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mrmo [2096 posts] 1 year ago
7 likes

the penalty is irrelevant if there are no police to enforce. 

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Alf0nse [43 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes

Driving bans won't work...ban them from smartphones. Sentence culprits to 5 years on a Nokia 3310

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The goat [43 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes

Overwhelming support on the BBC HYS for a 1 year ban - cyclists are not alone  in wanting action.  As others have said enforcement is needed and we might get a change in attitude to using a mobile while driving.

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CJSTEVENS1955 [86 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

Constantly re-active instead of proactively seeking a solution. Human nature dictates that the use of mobile phones in vehicles will never cease. Perhaps government would be better seeking partnerships with automotive and phone manufacturers for built in hands free in vehicles and setting a time when legally a vehicle must be fitted with such a function. I've been a police officer in Dorset, Western Australia and Queensland...the world over you can't win. People are inherently lazy and fed up of being over legislated. Further; with the dramatic reduction in the number of UK Police...do you want them to deal with serious crime etc., or someone using a mobile phone? An issue  that could be corrected by engagement and partnership. Everyone sits on their high horses about essentially little matters specific to their life style...how about looking at the bigger picture and start to be realistic. This includes individuals, organisations and government.

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hampstead_bandit [614 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes

a while back Police estimates in East London were 1/4 of all drivers without driving insurance, and a high proportion unlicensed

I see large numbers of motorists including many HGV drivers, every day in London,  driving whilst holding phones to ears or tapping away on the screen

 

//ep1.pinkbike.org/p6pb12363067/p5pb12363067.jpg)

 

you have to actually have proper police resources to catch people, otherwise its just todays newspaper with headlines of "tough on crime" and tomorrow's fish and chips wrapping  3

 

same B.S. we see with no regular active enforcement of speeding, drink driving, ignoring red lights, dangerous driving, driving into bicycle boxes on red lights, ignoring 20 mph blanket speed limits, etc. 

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CJSTEVENS1955 [86 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
The goat wrote:

Overwhelming support on the BBC HYS for a 1 year ban - cyclists are not alone  in wanting action.  As others have said enforcement is needed and we might get a change in attitude to using a mobile while driving.

With respect driving bans just don’t appear to work. I regularly drove the prison van from the court house to jail with the bulk of prisoners on board for disqualified driving offences. These people rightly so needed to be punished, but were criminalised for essentially low level repeat offences.  As I have said before, by human nature people will take the easy option. You have to prevent the cause by alternate measures i.e. crushing vehicles, enforcing driving lessons and re-test, community service to avoid the cost of incarceration...things that seem alien to the traditional "lock them up" scenario; which time and time again proves by re-offending that the only effect is to cost the tax payer to maintain prisons. We may actually have to look at Norway etc. where rehabilitation is a higher priority than incarceration. Provide focus for important offences, by de-criminalising drugs and prostitution etc. and re-directing the focus as the Portuguese did with drug use! Hard facts to deal with, hard to change mind sets that have been locked into a path for years!

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racyrich [305 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

Whats the reoffending rate in Saudi Arabia?

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crazy-legs [946 posts] 1 year ago
3 likes
CJSTEVENS1955 wrote:

Further; with the dramatic reduction in the number of UK Police...do you want them to deal with serious crime etc., or someone using a mobile phone?

What if that someone using a mobile phone becomes a multi-vehicle pile-up involving fatalities? Don't you reckon that takes up considerably more emergncy services time - possibly preventing them from dealing with serious crime while they sweep the remains of people off the roads? Surely better to prevent it becoming that scenario and maybe make a few ££ in fines at the same time?

Honestly, if they actually bothered enforcing this, the UK national debt would be paid off in a few weeks.

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Appash29 [5 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

As both a driver and a cyclist, I agree stiffer penalties need to be administered, but enforcement is the biggest issue. Camera evidence should be admissable in any case of phone use. 

But how many cyclist do you see wearing headphones? Is this just as dangerous!!!

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brooksby [2709 posts] 1 year ago
3 likes

The BBC article on this quotes an AA survey where 25% of drivers reckon they see someone using a handheld phone on every journey. Wow - only 25% see it on every journey? I see it on 100% of my journeys.

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crazy-legs [946 posts] 1 year ago
6 likes
Appash29 wrote:

But how many cyclist do you see wearing headphones? Is this just as dangerous!!!

It's not even close to being anywhere near as dangerous!

At worst it becomes slightly harder to hear traffic. Which is irrelevant anyway given that deaf or hearing impaired people can perfectly legally ride bikes. Having headphones on leaves your hands completely free and all you're doing is listening - its no different to having the radio on in the car. You're not trying to hold a conversation, read a small screen or type a text reply. 

Sadly you've fallen for the standard media response to any threat to curtail motorists freedoms to behave exactly as they want which is to start shouting loudly "but cyclists do this!" "but pedestrians do that!" "but we pay road tax!" 

 

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ron611087 [358 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
Appash29 wrote:

But how many cyclist do you see wearing headphones? Is this just as dangerous!!!

Is that statement based on evidence or prejudice?

Sources please.

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ron611087 [358 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes
brooksby wrote:

The BBC article on this quotes an AA survey where 25% of drivers reckon they see someone using a handheld phone on every journey. Wow - only 25% see it on every journey? I see it on 100% of my journeys.

Cyclists filter queueing traffic, so we see more, sometimes after the fact. I've reviewed footage of close passes and caught the telltale rectangle of light visible over the drivers shoulder. Something I never noticed during the event.  These are the most scary because they show the driver had no clue of my presence on the road. I've even caught a driver watching video on a dash mounted mobile. Gives a new meaning to the term "hands-free".

Also, in surveys drivers will more freely admit to speeding than using a mobile phone because it's perceived as a lower order offence and carries less stigma. FPN's for speeding will routinely be lamented in the office canteen, whereas for using a mobile it's less likely.

Mobile phone use is understated, the question is by how much?

Avatar
oldstrath [922 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes
Appash29 wrote:

As both a driver and a cyclist, I agree stiffer penalties need to be administered, but enforcement is the biggest issue. Camera evidence should be admissable in any case of phone use. 

But how many cyclist do you see wearing headphones? Is this just as dangerous!!!

Cyclist and bike  110 kg

Motorist and car - 2000 kg

 

So no, a cyclist  wearing headphones  cannot pose the same dangers to other people as a motorist with a mobile phone. They may be a danger to themselves,  but that's  mostly their problem. 

All this 'but we can't  really worry about drivers till we've  fixed the problems with cyclists' is getting a bit bloody boring. It's  like refusing to worry about murders until we have eliminated shoplifting. Simple physics dictates that motor vehicles  are always more of a threat than bikes, which are more of a threat than pedestrians, and law enforcement  should recognise this. I know the Daily Hate will never accept this, but for  the life of me I  cannot understand  why some cyclists cannot see it.

Avatar
ron611087 [358 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
ron611087 wrote:

Also, in surveys drivers will more freely admit to speeding than using a mobile phone because it's perceived as a lower order offence and carries less stigma. FPN's for speeding will routinely be lamented in the office canteen, whereas for using a mobile it's less likely.

I retract that. Some drivers don't give a toss about broadcasting their use of a mobile behind the wheel:

https://twitter.com/dailyknobheads/status/675679744340443136

Avatar
The goat [43 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
CJSTEVENS1955 wrote:
The goat wrote:

Overwhelming support on the BBC HYS for a 1 year ban - cyclists are not alone  in wanting action.  As others have said enforcement is needed and we might get a change in attitude to using a mobile while driving.

With respect driving bans just don’t appear to work. I regularly drove the prison van from the court house to jail with the bulk of prisoners on board for disqualified driving offences. These people rightly so needed to be punished, but were criminalised for essentially low level repeat offences.  As I have said before, by human nature people will take the easy option. You have to prevent the cause by alternate measures i.e. crushing vehicles, enforcing driving lessons and re-test, community service to avoid the cost of incarceration...things that seem alien to the traditional "lock them up" scenario; which time and time again proves by re-offending that the only effect is to cost the tax payer to maintain prisons. We may actually have to look at Norway etc. where rehabilitation is a higher priority than incarceration. Provide focus for important offences, by de-criminalising drugs and prostitution etc. and re-directing the focus as the Portuguese did with drug use! Hard facts to deal with, hard to change mind sets that have been locked into a path for years!

I'm fully in agreement with you - prison is no answer, it is often not an effective way of changing behaviour.   I'm very strongly in favour of any ban resulting in a re-test - the offender needs to prove they are fit to drive. 

My point was not clearly expresssed  - it was that the proposed changes seem to be 'unambitious' and there is wide support for a tougher penalty.  Overall a wider strategy is needed to modify road users behaviour, taking chances with other road users lives needs to be seen as a very serious offence.

Avatar
BikeBud [256 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
brooksby wrote:

The BBC article on this quotes an AA survey where 25% of drivers reckon they see someone using a handheld phone on every journey. Wow - only 25% see it on every journey? I see it on 100% of my journeys.

 

Some days it seems as though 75% have their eyes closed!   24

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BikeBud [256 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

As others have said, increasing the fine makes no difference if there is almost no chance of getting caught.  

One think I would like to see is at least 7 points for dangerous offences like this, so the second offence would put the driver past the 12 point limit.  Obviously this would require the 12 point limit to be enforced...

 

Avatar
brooksby [2709 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes
Leviathan wrote:

Seeing as there are already people driving around with 16 points on their licence, I don't think it will change attitudes.

According to the Institute of Advanced Motorists, the current record is 45 points for a driver in Liverpool, and then second place to a driver in Lewisham. The Lewisham driver "...has racked up an astounding 40 points for 12 offences despite never having held a full or even a provisional driving licence, according to information supplied by the DVLA in February [2015], following a Freedom of Information request . The offences include speeding in a 30mph zone and driving without insurance. "

Avatar
wycombewheeler [1237 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes
brooksby wrote:

The BBC article on this quotes an AA survey where 25% of drivers reckon they see someone using a handheld phone on every journey. Wow - only 25% see it on every journey? I see it on 100% of my journeys.

 

yes, only 25% the other 75% are too busy staring at their phones