Picture by: Jim Legans, Jr
Police forces around Britain are launching awareness campaigns about the new mobile phone law which comes into place next week and sees a doubling of the penalties faced by motorists who are distracted by using an internet device or mobile phone while at the wheel.
The new law will double the penalty by increasing the fixed penalty fine from £100 to £200 and increasing the penalty points from 3 to 6 for all drivers.
This means that a driving instructor who is fined and receives a six penalty points will lose their livelihood.
ADIs - You are unlikely to be considered a fit and proper person to be on the ADI register if your licence has 6 or more penalty points. You would need to wait for up to three years, reapply and if allowed undertake a further DBS check. You would then have to pay for and re-take all the ADI qualifying tests to get back on the register.
New drivers - Under the new drivers act your licence will be revoked if you get 6 or more points within 2 years of passing your test. You’ll have to apply and pay for a new provisional licence and pass both theory and practical parts of the driving or riding test again to get a full licence.
At present, drivers who are stopped while using a mobile phone are issued with three penalty points on their licence and a £100 fine. Under the new legislation, which comes into force on Wednesday, March 1, the consequences double and will be six points and a £200 fine. In more serious cases, police officers have powers to prosecute drivers for careless or dangerous driving.
Chief Superintendent Andy Edmonston, Head of Road Policing for Police Scotland, said:
“The risks associated with using a phone while behind the wheel have always been very clear. Any driver will be distracted by a phone call or text message as it affects the ability to concentrate and anticipate the road ahead, putting the driver and other road users at risk.
"Distraction reduces hazard perception and increases reaction times in a similar way to drink-driving, making drivers much more likely to cause deaths and injuries. Drivers who think they can multi-task are fooling themselves: research shows 98% are unable to divide their time without it affecting performance. Talking on a phone hand-held or hands free, texting, emailing, adjusting sat navs, eating, drinking and smoking are all proven to increase crash risk.
"The law says a driver must at all times be in proper control of their vehicle. If at any time they are not they may be guilty of an offence. Police Scotland consistently targets these offences on a daily basis to reduce road casualties and will deal with offences detected in an appropriate manner.
"We are using this change in the law to, once again, reminding drivers that using a mobile phone while driving has always been unacceptable and even careful drivers can be distracted by a call or text – and a split-second lapse in concentration could result in a serious or fatal collision.”
In January 2016 the Department for Transport (DfT) issued a consultation entitled "A consultation on changes to the Fixed Penalty Notice and penalty points for the use of a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving" and invited responses from members of the public and organisations interested in road safety. The consultation set out proposals to increase the fixed penalty for drivers from 3 to 4 points, and for heavy goods vehicle drivers (including large passenger vehicles) from 3 to 6 points. The consultation proposed an increase in the fixed penalty fine from £100 to £150.
In November 2016 government issued their response to the consultation and stated that In 2003 penalty fines were introduced at £30. In 2007 the fine was increased to £60 and points were introduced at 3 for all offending drivers. In 2013 the fine was increased to £100. Despite this, there has been no sustained reduction in observed mobile phone use over time. Evidence also suggests that mobile phone use while driving has a worse impact on driving ability than being above the drink driving limit.
In view of this and the strength of support for tougher penalties, we propose to go further than the proposals in the consultation and will double the penalty by increasing the fixed penalty fine from £100 to £200 and increasing the penalty points from 3 to 6 for all drivers – we do not propose to differentiate between cars and HGVs. To provide a strong deterrent to change behaviour, all drivers will face 6 penalty points regardless of vehicle type. This means all drivers using a mobile phone will be treated equally seriously