Prone to using your mobile while driving? Well think again. Police are considering doubling the number of points handed to people caught in the act.
Ministers are considering doling out six penalty points for people caught speaking on a mobile phone while driving, doubling the number from the current threshold of three points to six. If introduced, the change would mean those caught using a mobile phone twice in the space of three years would receive a ban.
Patrick McLoughlin, the transport secretary, is considering the plans following a hike in the number of injuries and deaths caused by dangerous driving on London’s streets – the first increase in a decade.
The plans have been backed by Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, commissioner of the Metropolitan police.
McLoughlin told journalists: “The person using their phone doesn’t realise the damage or the danger they can be in. It ends up ruining different people’s lives – those who are driving as well as those who are injured.
“It is one that I want to look at. There could be some difficulties about it but I think we’ve got to get that message across to people about safety.
“We have been very lucky in this country in seeing, year on year, the number of road deaths and casualties actually falling. But one death is one too many and we need to look at those and see where we are going”
Not everyone agrees with the idea of increasing the number of penalty points for mobile phone use. Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, claims enforcement is a bigger deterrent than more severe penalties.
“Our own research shows how dangerous using a mobile at the wheel can be,” he said. “Texting while driving impairs reactions more than being at the drink-drive limit or high on cannabis.
“However the large number of motorists still using phones at the wheel is less about the size of penalties and more about the chance of being caught.
“The Department for Transport’s own figures show that on two previous occasions when this law was tightened and fines increased the number of people offending initially dropped but then rapidly rose again.
“The conclusion must be that drivers simply don’t think they are going to be caught.”
What do you think? Should penalties for speaking on the phone be doubled? Let us know in the comments below.