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Punishments for using a mobile while driving about to get much harsher

The UK government has announced a zero-tolerance approach to motorists who use their mobile phone while driving, which is set to come into play from 2017.

Offenders are currently given the choice to attend a remedial driving course for their first offence, but the system has been criticised as “soft”. The new regulations will see the lowest number of penalty points awarded rise from three to six.

Not only is that half the number needed to lose your licence for more experienced drivers, six points is enough for the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) to revoke your licence if you have been driving fewer than two years.

The fines for mobile phone use while driving will also increase by double, from £100 to £200. Ministers, meanwhile, are said to be considering releasing a consultation on dangerous driving courses before the end of 2016.

The Department for Transport (DfT) crackdown comes in light of a number of recent deaths, including a family of four who were all killed when a lorry driver ploughed into the back of their vehicle on the A34. He had been using his phone at the time of the incident.

Statistics that revealed 16,900 drivers across England and Wales were issued penalty notices for using a phone while driving in 2015, down 43 per cent on the previous 12 months. The RAC believes the decline is merely the result of a 27 per cent decrease in offers out policing roads between 2010 and 2015.

“For new drivers a prosecution will mean instant disqualification, as they only need six points within two years of gaining their licence to have it revoked by the DVLA,” RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said.

He added: “The Government, police, road safety and motoring organisations must accept some responsibility for failing to encourage motorists to change their behaviour and make handheld mobile phone use as socially unacceptable as drink-driving since it was made illegal in 2003.

“It has been allowed to go on for too long and we now need to send a shockwave out there and encourage any drivers still flouting the law to go cold turkey on handheld mobile phone use.”

The revisions surrounding mobile phone laws are on target to be introduced at the start of 2017, meaning now is a very good time to do other drivers a favour and pull in somewhere safe if you really need to use your phone.

Unless you would rather get the bus?

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