The worrying figures over the last five years of drivers being fined, given penalty points and losing their licence while illegally using mobile phones at the wheel has caused a police crackdown in 2017.
An 86% drop in the number of fines drivers receive for using mobile phones while in the driver’s seat has been put down to police cuts, as reports show there are more offenders than ever before.
The home office has released figures that show only 16,900 motorists in England and Wales using their mobile phones illegally were given a fixed penalty fines notice compared to 2011 and the 123,000 who were punished.
Due to these statistics the UK Government announced it would raise the penalties for drivers 100% for using mobile phones behind the wheel and hit offenders with a £200 fine and six penalty point. Before this change the fine was £100 and three penalty points.
Since the new legislation was introduced and a new law stating that drivers who have passed their test in the last two years will lose their licence automatically if caught using their mobile phones, and face retaking their theory and practical driving tests – 11 drivers have already lost their licences.
Police Inspector, Gavin Biggs, said he had ‘no sympathy’ for the drivers caught out under the new stiff penalties: “It’s been a long time coming, ‘I’m really pleased about it.”
“People know that it’s an offence, yet they continue to do it. Our enforcement shows we have a strong stance against it. Yes, six points is quite steep but people know the dangers of what they’re doing.”
“Everybody who has been using their mobile phone today has been using it for texting or social media.” – he added.
“They’ve been doing it down by their side below the level of the dashboard – they’re clearly doing that to hide what they’re doing.”
“They understand it’s unlawful, they understand it’s dangerous.”
The changes have been welcomed by most and will continue to make the roads a safer place, but there will always be the few who feel there was a good excuse not to safely stop somewhere along the road to answer a call or find a garage close enough to change a tire.
Stay safe and if you need to use your phone, park up.