Consultation and survey launched over proposals to increase penalties

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.

> Stiffer penalties for using mobile phones while driving?

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.

> Drop in number of fines for using hand-held phone at wheel

The consultation remains open until 15 March.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.