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Doubled punishment for phone-using drivers 'insufficient' says brother of killed cyclist

New legislation that plans to double the punishment for phone use while driving "isn't going to stop everybody" says brother of cyclist killed by eight-time offender...

Drivers who are caught using mobile phones behind the wheels of vehicles are set to face doubly harsh punishments under planned changes in government legislation.

The changes being ushered in by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling have been welcomed by the AA, but the brother of Hampshire cyclist Lee Martin who was killed last August by a van driver who had eight previous convictions for phone use, says he doesn't "really see that a fine is really going to stop everybody."

The planned change in punishment pegged to come into effect in the first half of 2017 would double the minimum fine to £200, as well as doubling the three points you would currently receive to six.

Darrell Martin, brother of cyclist Lee Martin who was killed by Christopher Gard who had been infront of a magistrate 6 weeks earlier on charges of phone use while driving, was a guest on Radio 4's Today programme. He explained that while he actively welcomes the changes, he doesn't think the new punishments will be enough to change the national attitude towards phone use behind the wheel.

>Read more: Driver charged 6 months after death of Hapshire cyclist Lee Martin

"I greet it with enthusiasm that they have begun the process but I don't really think it is enough what they have proposed," Mr Martin told Radio 4.

"I don't really see that a fine is really going to stop everybody because if you're absolutely loaded £200 is nothing, £1,000 is nothing if you're driving round in a fancy Aston Martin."

Mr Martin's brother Lee was killed while taking part in a time trial near Farnham when driver Gard collided with him at around 7.30pm. Lee was airlifted to John Radcliffe Hospital where he later died of his injuries.

>Read more: Nine-year jail sentence for texting driver who killed Lee Martin

The triviality of text messaging was a focus point during Mr Martin's Radio 4 interview. He highlighted the topic of conversation that Christopher Gard was engaged in at the time of the crash as an example of the ridiculous recklessness of texting while driving.

"Think about how inane this is, the text message that he was texting his mate was about how he was going to meet him to take his dog for a walk. That's what killed my brother; it's horrendous."

This change in legislation is being masterminded by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling. The legislation will cover anyone caught using a handheld device to place a phone call, text message, or use an app while driving.

Mr Grayling highlighted the changing world of technology and the need to keep up with it legislatively. He said: 

“As technology develops, mobile phones are common place, but we need to take responsibility for our actions and as drink or drug driving has become socially unacceptable, so must using mobile phones at the wheel.

“It may seem harmless when you are replying to a text, answering a call or using an app, but the truth is your actions could kill and cause untold misery to others.

“We all have a part to play in ensuring our family and friends do not use their phones while driving. I will be announcing a tougher new penalty regime shortly.”

Meanwhile Edmund King, the president of motoring organisation the AA, said "One text and you're out... if we are to change the attitudes of young drivers maybe it has to be that harsh."

"Six points is a real statement when you look at sentencing, I think it is a really good start."

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