Many people think the distraction of using a mobile phone whilst driving creates as much risk as a motorist being over the drink drive limit. In addition, Prime Minister Theresa May has stated she wishes to make mobile phone use by drivers as “culturally unacceptable” as drinking and driving.
Despite this, a third of drivers have admitted to speaking on a mobile whilst driving, with 20% sending messages or even using Facebook and Twitter.
It doesn’t help that, up until now, many people have felt that thanks to budget cuts and fewer road patrols they’re not particularly likely to get caught using their phone or be penalised for doing so. Thankfully, a new clampdown seems set to push us further towards the cultural change the PM wishes for.
For starters, there are plans to significantly increase the penalties for using a mobile phone whilst driving. These penalties are likely to launch later this year, and include a fine of £200 and six penalty points for anyone caught. There is even talk of new speed cameras being put to use that will be able to spot drivers using mobile phones and not wearing seatbelts. Quite aside from the safety aspects, these would surely prove quite the revenue-generator.
Severe penalties are already being imposed for people causing accidents due to inattention while using the phone. AAs reported by The BBC, a lorry driver was sentenced to ten years for causing the tragic death of a mother and three children last year. New proposals could increase the maximum penalty for such an offence to life imprisonment.
Before these laws are even confirmed, the authorities have started taking a much more proactive approach to catching people breaking this law. Reports have revealed that almost 8000 people were caught and punished for using their phones during a recent seven-day clampdown, with another such initiative underway this week.
There have been similar clampdowns before, but not on such a scale and involving so many police forces. Anyone taking a lax attitude to using their mobile phone is now far more likely to get caught, and the penalties will soon be more severe too. The practice is unsafe, and simply not worth the risk.
What is your view on drivers using mobile phones, and what do you think of the recent clampdowns? Let us know in the comments below.
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