Illegal mobile phone use by drivers is rising, according to new research that found that 31 per cent of motorists admitted to using a handheld phone behind the wheel, compared with 8 per cent in 2014. In an effort to lower these percentages, the Department of Transport plans to enforce tougher penalties for drivers caught using handheld mobile phones whilst driving.
The new rules apply to drivers in England, Scotland and Wales, and are expected to come into force during the first half of 2017. Under the new rules, drivers will get six points on their licence and face a £200 fine—up significantly from the previous three penalty points and £100 fine. The new penalties will be accompanied by a high-profile government THINK! campaign.
If a new driver is caught using a handheld device whilst behind the wheel, he or she could be made to retake his or her driving test. The new rules could also see more experienced drivers going to court if they offend twice, and facing possible fines of up to £1,000 and at least a six-month driving ban.
In Northern Ireland, drivers are currently given three penalty points and a £60 fine for the offence. The Department for Infrastructure does not have any plans to change this currently. When driving, wait to use your handheld phone until your vehicle is stationary, so you can avoid fines and stay safe.