Ministers are considering a new proposition from the Department for Transport (DoT) to increase penalty points and fines for drivers who use handheld mobile phones whilst driving. Penalty points could rise from three to four and drivers of heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) could receive up to six penalty points on their licenses. The cost of fines could rise by 50 per cent on the current cost to the proposed £150. First time offenders could continue to choose to attend police safety courses as an alternative.
The DoT referred to research which indicated that 9 per cent of drivers regularly take “selfies” whilst driving. Drivers using handheld mobile phones caused 500 motoring accidents in 2014 (the highest number on record), whilst there is evidence that numbers of prosecutions for the offence have decreased. The DoT stated that this new proposition is the government’s “preferred option” and aims to reduce the amount of motoring deaths and injuries. They will explore whether technology could possibly be placed in motorist’s mobile phones to ensure that a “drive-safe mode” is automatically switched on.
The government acknowledge that the increase in fine rates in 2013, from £60 to £100, has “no statistically significant change to the number of drivers observed using a hand-held mobile phone from 2009-2014”.