Harsher penalties for using phones at the wheel proposed

Highways Reporters

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling wants tougher penalties for motorists who use mobile phones while driving.

Under the proposals drivers caught using a phone while driving would be given a six-point penalty and given a minimum fine of £200. This is double the current punishment and would mean that new drivers would lose their licence the first time they are caught using a handheld phone.

Mr Grayling said: "As technology develops, mobile phones are common place, but we need to take responsibility for our actions and as drink or drug driving has become socially unacceptable, so must using mobile phones at the wheel.

"It may seem harmless when you are replying to a text, answering a call or using an app, but the truth is your actions could kill and cause untold misery to others."

Figures from the Department for Transport show that a driver distracted by their phone was a factor in 492 accidents in Britain in 2014 - including 21 that were fatal.

AA president Edmund King said: “Driving while using a phone is a dangerous habit which has only got worse over the last couple of years.

“The current fines and points are not enough of a deterrent. We need to double the fines and double the penalty points to have a real impact.

“Once drivers realise there is a real danger of losing their licence, they are much more likely to quit their addiction of using the phone behind the wheel.”

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