Road Safety News

Government confirms plans to double mobile phone penalties

Tuesday 8th November 2016

The Government has confirmed it is planning to double the penalties for those caught using a mobile phone while driving.

Announced today (8 Nov) as part of a response into a consultation on the issue, the move means that those found committing the offence will be docked six points and receive a £200 fine.

The increase in penalty points would mean an immediate ban for newly-qualified drivers who have a ceiling of six points for the first two years after passing the test.

The move has been welcomed by stakeholders, including the RAC and IAM RoadSmart.

In January, the Government launched its consultation seeking views on proposals to increase penalty points and fixed penalty notice (FPN) levels for the offence.

In September, it was widely reported that the penalty was to double from three points and a £100 fine - a decision that was confirmed by today’s response.

Also confirmed in today’s response is that the DfT will launch a THINK! campaign highlighting the dangers of using a mobile phone while driving. The campaign will aim to raise awareness of the changes in order to stimulate a change in behaviour that road users are looking for.

The DfT is also planning to conduct a roadside observational survey to monitor the effectiveness of the changes. The department says this will help it consider whether further measures need to be taken, for example further behaviour change programmes such as a larger scale awareness campaigns.

Stakeholder reaction
IAM RoadSmart has welcomed them move, saying that drivers need to learn that their actions could kill.

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: “Addressing the growing problem of smartphone use whilst driving will require a combination of enforcement and education as well as drivers, passengers, companies and individuals taking more responsibility. 

“IAM RoadSmart is disappointed that the government did not support our calls for first time offenders to be sent automatically on a re-education course specifically tailored to mobile phone use and breaking our apparent addiction to being constantly connected.  We also want to see car companies, mobile phone makers and social media providers working together to develop technical solutions to hand held mobile phone use in vehicles.”

The RAC is also welcoming the stiffer penalties for handheld mobile phone use, and believes the move will send a very strong message to motorists. 

Pete Williams, RAC road safety spokesman, said:  “We welcome stiffer penalties for handheld mobile phone use and believe this will send a very strong message to motorists.

"However, we believe this has to be done in conjunction with a heavyweight road safety campaign so we therefore welcome initial proposals for a new THINK! initiative. The RAC’s Report on Motoring 2016 identified that the problem is at epidemic proportions as almost half (48%) of motorists admitted to using a handheld phone at the wheel to talk, text or use other apps in the last year."

Want to know more about mobile phones and road safety? 
Key facts and summaries of research reports - visit the Road Safety Observatory
Online library of research and reports etc - visit the Road Safety Knowledge Centre 


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Perhaps the threat of on-the-spot seizure of an offender's 'phone would be more of a deterrent.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (7) | Disagree (1)

Devon & Cornwall announced a crack down on this today,14th Nov 2016, on the local news. Not sure for how long but will be interesting to see any results.
David, Cornwall

Agree (3) | Disagree (0)

New drivers DON'T get banned on reaching 6 penalty points. They get returned to learner status to do their test again.

Agree (8) | Disagree (0)

I think there ought to be an incentive to those with dash cams and helmet cams to report the evidence to the police, with the incentive being that if a successful conviction then half of the fine gets paid to them, this could usher in a new wave of self policing, but help catch more offenders in the long run.
Stuart UK

Agree (14) | Disagree (22)

It's not so much the lack of manpower, it's more a problem of it being a hard to spot offences anyway. Only by being able to see the driver closely and spotting the tell-tale signs, can discreet ues of a smart 'phone whilst driving be detected - as Becky says, it's not so obvious as it once was, when a driver could be seen holding the 'phone to their ear.

Also, in the event of a driver being involved in a collision having taken their eye of the road through studying their 'phone, it would be very difficult if not impossible for the investigators to prove that this had been the case, so it may never officially appear as a causation factor. This would no doubt lead to debates in the future about the seriousness of the offence - that is, if one formed conclusions by only studying data (always a mistake). What Simon has suggested re using technology is probably the best solution.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (2) | Disagree (9)

This is well overdue. However, who is going to police it now that police officer, particularly roads policing officer numbers, have been reduced? I would guess that most people have a mobile phone & hands free kits are not expensive. There must be some technology that means the vehicle you are driving can detect you have a phone switched on and requires you to connect it somewhere on the dash before the engine will start. If the connection is broken, the engine will stop. It could work on hands free, but not otherwise.

Agree (7) | Disagree (7)

We desperately need more traffic police on the network daily, they are very much needed to help prevent further deaths on our roads.
Mr G

Agree (17) | Disagree (3)

The point people fail to realise difference between mobile phone usage and other traffic violations is:

We're no longer in the 90s where people are talking on their phone with one hand off the wheel...
People are reading their facebook feed and posting comments on it! They aren't looking where they are going, instead their eyes and attention are locked firmly on their mobile screen, the equivalent of driving blind folded, sometimes for 10 seconds or more at a time.

If people are tail gating or speeding, yes they have less safety margin and that can cause problems but these guys could run someone over before they took their eyes off their mobile phone, without even knowing they were approaching a potential hazard in the first place.
Becky / UK

Agree (25) | Disagree (5)

Yes, distraction impairs your ability to control your vehicle, it increases stopping distances and the ability to stop "incidents" turning into "collisions".

And actually that's just like speed impairs your ability to control your vehicle, it increases stopping distances and the ability to stop "incidents" turning into "collisions".

The difference between 20mph and 30mph is a doubling of the distance to stop. In the 40ft a 20mph vehcicle can stop a 30mph vehicle is still doing 25mph and hitting objects between 40 and 80ft.

So please, if we are so concerned about vehicle control being impaired by distraction and drink driving then lets put the same penalties into that same impairment by those who exceed that which society has licensed them to drive at.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us, Cheshire

Agree (8) | Disagree (17)

Mobile phone use should carry the same penalty as drink driving. I've seen drivers drift on to the wrong side of the road in to the path of on-coming traffic from mobile phone use; you'd think that having a near miss head on collision would be enough to snap people out of it... but it doesn't. These measures aren't enough.
Becky / UK

Agree (33) | Disagree (8)

Odd that this one offence in isolation has had its associated penalty doubled - what about other offences? I don't think 'phone use - compared to say, speeding and tailgating - is necessarily more risky, in terms of a collision as a likely consequence.

Whatever the offence, whether doubling the penalty actually deters more potential offenders remains to be seen.
Hugh Jones

Agree (6) | Disagree (26)

Well done for this change of penalties. Turning to the Education, I hope the content will include "do" rather than simply "don't". Examples should include placing the phone out of reach (passenger glove box?) to avoid temptation to use.
Pete, Liverpool

Agree (20) | Disagree (4)