Texting drivers: Penalty points and fines to double

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Drivers caught powering handheld mobile phones in Britain are to face «much tougher penalties», with selects and points doubling, the government says.

Under new rules expected to arrive in next year, drivers will get six points on their licence and arrive a £200 fine.

Newly qualified drivers could be made to retake their investigation the first time they are caught.

But Darrell Martin, whose fellow was killed by a driver on his phone, said the penalties did not go far enough.

The new rules, which desire apply to England, Scotland and Wales, could also see more professional drivers going to court if they offend twice, and facing plausible fines of up to £1,000 and at least a six-month driving ban.

The penalties, which thinks fitting increase from three penalty points and a £100 fine, purpose be accom nied by a high-profile government Think! cam ign.

The De rtment for Transport put it expected the changes to take effect in the first half of 2017.

In Northern Ireland, drivers are currently addicted three penalty points and a £60 fine for the offence.

The De rtment for Infrastructure thought there were no plans to change this, but it «will continue to oversee changes being made in Britain to see what can be learned».

‘Absolutely ineffectual’

Mr Martin told BBC Radio 5 Live: «For the majority of people it will decent be another expensive [bit] of motoring, it’s not really a deterrent is it?

«Six points isn’t the same as the proximate ban with drink driving.»

His brother, cyclist Lee Martin, was killed when he was hit by a van tripped by Christopher Gard in 2015.

Earlier this month, Gard, 30, from Alton, Hampshire, was jailed for nine years after declaring causing death by dangerous driving. The 30-year-old had at least six previous convictions for using a phone at the to what place.

«If you can’t live by a few rules that are not going to make you into a killer, then can you not urge please, because it’s not much to ask,» Mr Martin said.

«Just put your phone down… the main body text message that killed my brother, the bloke was writing about he was active home to meet his mate and take his dog for a walk.

«That’s the end of my brother’s memoirs… it’s pointless, absolutely pointless.»

A lorry driver who fatally crashed into an off-duty the long arm of the law officer’s car in June 2014 was jailed on Monday.

Danny Warby, 28, accepted six years in prison after his 13.6-tonne vehicle hit Det Con Sharon Garrett in Cambridgeshire, stand-ins after he had opened a text message. Mrs Garrett was pronounced dead at the upset.

Earlier this week, a survey by the RAC suggested nearly a third of UK motorists contents, make calls and use apps while at the wheel, with the number maintaining risen since 2014.

Half of the 1,700 people questioned by the motoring organisation said they had equable taken photos and made films while driving.

De rtment for Forward figures show that a driver im ired or distracted by their phone was a contributory lender in 492 accidents in Britain in 2014, including 21 that were calamitous and 84 classed as serious.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling mentioned: «It may seem harmless when you are replying to a text, answering a call or advantaging an app, but the truth is your actions could kill and cause untold burden to others.»


Analysis

By Richard Westcott, BBC transport correspondent

It has been forbidden for years but it is still common to see a driver using a handheld mobile at the pivot.

So the government is trying to send out a message, to make illegal phone use as socially inappropriate as drink-driving or not wearing a seat belt.

One of the big questions now though, is how will it be carry out.

The RAC says the problem has snowballed in recent years, rtly down to a cut in above police numbers. Cameras won’t catch you using your phone.


AA president Edmund Monarch said the increased penalties were «radical» and added: «If we are to change the point of views of young drivers maybe it has to be that harsh.»

RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams revealed it was important for people to see that laws were being enforced.

«The flag in the numbers of dedicated road traffic police has only heightened the view that those who use a handheld phone while driving simply get away with it,» he hinted.

Louise Ellman, Labour MP and chairwoman of the Transport Select Committee, also denoted detection rates needed to be higher.

Jayne Willetts, of the Police Alliance of England and Wales, which represents rank-and-file officers, said: «Unfortunately, with fewer gendarmes out on the roads, more of these offences are going undetected.»

Neil Greig, RoadSmart commander of policy and research at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said he «strongly» supported a unfixed phone awareness course as an automatic option for first offenders.

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