The government has launched a consultation on whether to increase the penalty levels for using a hand-held mobile phone while driving.
The consultation is considering proposals for increasing the fixed penalty notice (FPN) level from £100 to £150 for all drivers as well as increasing the penalty points from 3 to 4 for non-HGV drivers and from 3 to 6 points for those that hold a Large Goods Vehicle (HGV) licence who commit the offence whilst driving a HGV.
The paper added that the vast majority of first time offenders would not incur a FPN or penalty points but would instead continue to be offered a remedial educational course.
The consultation is the result of a Conservative manifesto commitment to “reduce the number of cyclists and other road users killed and injured on our roads every year and follow the governments road safety statement Working Together to Build a Safer Road System in December 2015, which set out the context of road safety in Britain today and the overarching scope of road safety activity for the government.
The consultation said that driving ability was clearly impaired by using a mobile phone and studies have found that talking on a hand-held mobile phone impairs driving more than driving above the drink drive limit.
According to the paper: “During the period 2009-2014, our casualty data shows that 3,611 reported accidents have occurred where at least one driver was using a mobile phone, although we believe this to be an area that is likely to be significantly under recorded as many drivers may have put away their phone before the police arrive.”
It continued: “ During a 2014 survey in England and Scotland, 1.6% of car drivers were observed using a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving…In view of the seriousness of potential consequences of this offence, we propose to increase the FPN to act as a further deterrent for offending behaviour.”