Sunday, December 20, 2015

Drivers Using Phones While Behind The Wheel Will Receive Higher Fines, Larger Penalty Points

Drivers that still use mobile phones even while driving will be caught and receive stronger penalties under new proposals from the government.

From three penalty points, drivers who will be caught will be hit with four on their driving license. The £100 fine will be bumped up to £150.

If a driver receives 12 points in just 36 months, they could be banned from driving. There are also other acts that can lead to receiving penalty points, but the government wants to strengthen their fight against distracted drivers.

"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. We will take action to tackle this persistent problem, with an emphasis on the most serious offenders," said Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin.

The Department for Transport (DfT) recorded 84 serious and 21 fatal accidents that involved the use of a mobile phone while driving.

Driver who will be caught for the first time may not receive the penalty points on their license immediately. They will be given the opportunity to take an educational course regarding how mobile use while driving can lead to accidents, according to Sky News.

Road Safety Minister Andrew Jones said: "We are increasing the penalty points for HGV drivers because these are big, big vehicles up to 44 tonnes in weight. The consequences of people not paying attention behind the wheel of these vehicles can be significantly greater, so that's why we are treating them differently."

The proposals would still be consulted on in 2016. It would likely gain traction and approval as the Central Motorway Policing Group supports the new proposal. Officers reportedly catch such offenders every day.

Social media is believed to be one of the reasons as to why drivers keep using their phones even while driving. Drivers always want to be connected to their online accounts.

Superintendent Paul Keasey said that drivers want to know everything that is going on with their friends and loved ones "instantaneously." He added that the braking distance is significantly reduced once the driver takes off his/her eyes on the road even for just a second.

Neil Greig from the Institute of Advanced Motorists lauded the government's plans to help make the roads safer for everyone. However, he believes that the stronger penalties and punishments will not have that much impact for the offending drivers.

Instead, Greig suggests that there should be an increase in the number of traffic police officers to enforce these regulations. This would lead to motorists fearing that they would get caught instead of just worrying about the higher fines that they would incur.

Drivers should be focused on driving instead of fiddling with their phones. The advancements in technology, especially for smartphones, may have increased the risks for accidents.

Users can now connect to their social media accounts even while on the road due to 3G and LTE connections. In the past, one would need to directly connect via a desktop or laptop computer before they can access the Internet.

Technology does still have its own benefits for drivers. Some vehicles today have in-car systems that can synchronize with the phone. If a call comes through, the driver can just answer with a push of a button and without needing to actually use the phone.

For drivers using their phones as maps, it is advisable to just use the car's GPS system. A digital assistant can tell the driver when and where to turn so that the eyes can still be fixed on the road.

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