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Anyone caught using a hand-held mobile phone while driving will be hit with tougher penalties from 1 March 2017 in a clampdown on the offence designed to make it as socially unacceptable as drink driving or not wearing a seatbelt.
The penalties will double to a £200 fine and six penalty points on the offender’s licence.
If the person committing the offence is within two years of passing their test, their licence will be revoked and they will have to re-sit.
Incurring a CU80 mobile phone offence is viewed grimly by insurers, who look to increase premiums for offenders by 15% – 20%.
Taking the hit
Kevin Pratt, insurance expert at MoneySuperMarket, explains: “Using a phone while at the wheel means you’re four times more likely to have a crash and, unlike speeding where you can mistakenly find yourself going over the limit, it’s a very deliberate act that distract you from the road.
The new taboo
Over the years things like drink driving and not wearing a seatbelt have gone from being something of a social norm to a taboo, and the new government proposals want the act of using a phone while at the wheel to go the same way.
The government said: “Using a mobile phone at the wheel is reckless and costs lives – it should become a social taboo like not wearing a seatbelt.
The spokesperson added: “The message is clear: keep your hands on the wheel, not your phone. If you keep taking calls while at the wheel, you could end up being banned from the road.”
And if you’re in any doubt as to how dangerous it is to use a phone while driving, consider that it was a contributory factor in 21 fatal and 84 serious accidents in 2014 – no phone call is that important.