Anyone interested in seeing tougher penalties for mobile phone use while driving has until tomorrow night (15th March) to respond to a government consultation.
Drivers using mobile phone are four times more likely to crash, and mobile phone use is considered more dangerous than drink driving, slowing drivers’ reactions by 50%.
It has been illegal to drive while using a mobile phone since 2003 and currently a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) of £100 and three penalty points apply to the offence. However, the problem remains – in 2014 1.6 per cent of all drivers in England and Scotland were observed using a hand held mobile phone.
In December 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 of the offence.
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 is here and closes on 15 March at 11.45pm.