By Chelsey Ward
THE PENALTY for using a mobile phone while driving has risen to six points and a £200 fine.
New rules introduced on March 1 in England, Scotland and Wales mean newly qualified drivers who have passed their test in the last two years will have their licence revoked if caught using their phone behind the wheel.
Chief Insp Tony Dyer, of Kent Police‘s roads policing unit, said: “We’re hoping to raise awareness of the new penalties and hope they act as a deterrent to drivers.
“There is a lot more at stake than just a higher penalty – you could kill or hurt an innocent person by checking a text or taking a call.
“The message is simple: Don’t do it – and don’t let others take the risk either.”
The new rules do allow you to use your phone as a sat-nav or hands-free as long as it is mounted in a hands-free holder. You are able to use your phone if you are safely parked and your engine is switched off.
New rules also mean that anyone supervising a learner driver is also unable to use their phone.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “Doubling penalties will act as a strong deterrent to motorists tempted to pick up their phone while driving and will also mean repeat offenders could find themselves banned from our roads if they are caught twice.”
A campaign has been launched to help emphasise the issue and to show people the detrimental effect it could have on someone’s life.
In 2015 22 people were killed and 99 seriously injured in accidents where a driver was using their phone.
Isabelle Hammond, 24, a sales assistant from Mansfield, was injured in a car accident caused by the driver texting.
She said: “I think it’s a great step forward, it’s so important that people focus when they’re driving. I was extremely lucky with my accident, it could have ended a lot worse than it did but it would have been easily preventable if the person wasn’t texting.
“I’d hate to think that my family could have got a message that day saying I wasn’t here anymore because someone would rather be on their phone.”
So what are the rules?
- You can make an emergency call to 999 or 112 as long as it’s unsafe or impractical to stop first.
- You can use a two-way radio but not any other device that sends or receives data.
Your employer may be open to prosecution:
If they cause or permit you to drive while using a phone or to not have proper control of the vehicle.
If they require you to make or receive calls whilst driving.
If you drive dangerously because you’re using a phone installed by your employer.