The Department for Transport has launched a consultation on whether harsher penalties should be introduced for motorists caught using handheld mobile phones at the wheel, and has posted a survey online to canvass the public’s views.
Currently, a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) of £100 applies to the offence, and offenders also have their driving licence endorsed with three penalty points.
Last month, secretary of state for transport Patrick McLoughlin announced plans to increase the fine to £150 and for motorists to receive four penalty points or six if they are behind the wheel of an HGV at the time the offence was committed.
He said: "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."
However, with cuts in the number of police officers dedicated to traffic duties, road safety charities say that increased penalties need to be accompanied by greater enforcement of the law regarding the use of mobile phones to make voice calls, check email and social media feeds or surf websites while driving.
The consultation remains open until 15 March.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.