The punishment for using a mobile phone behind the wheel could be doubled to six points on drivers’ licences, if newly announced plans get the go-ahead.
This would mean that motorists caught driving while on the phone twice within three years could be banned from driving and new drivers could be banned after just one offence.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said yesterday that this move has been prompted by the high number of deaths caused by those texting or talking on the phone while driving.
"We’ve got to change this. We’ve got to get that message across.”
“The amount of casualties has been absolutely appalling.” The latest figures show that drivers using mobiles cause one death every fortnight," he said.
McLoughlin continued: "We’ve got to change this. We’ve got to get that message across.”
The Transport Secretary is also considering raising the fine for those using their phone while behind the wheel from £100 to £150. This follows research which states that talking on the phone and texting can be more distracting than the effects of alcohol or drugs when driving.
Data from the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) shows a 46 per cent reduction in reaction time for those talking on a phone and a 37 per cent drop for those texting. This compares to a 21 per cent drop for those on cannabis and 13 per cent for someone on the legal drink driving limit.
Using a mobile while driving has been against the law for over a decade, with the fine standing at £30 initially. This rose to £60 and three points on drivers’ licences in 2007 and was later hiked to £100 last year with a possible £1,000 charge upon conviction in court. Any change in the law now is not likely to come into force until after the next general election.