New drivers could now lose their licence for using phone at the wheel: Here's what you need to know
New measures have been introduced that will see new drivers caught using a phone while behind the wheel illegally for the first time face losing their licence.
Here’s everything you should know.
What exactly do the new measures involve?
Penalties and fines for offenders have been doubled to six points and £200 respectively from March 1.
If a driver is in their first two years on the road and they get six penalty points, they can have their licence revoked – so this could now be the result of sending a single text message.
If more experienced motorists receive 12 points in a three-year period, they can also lose their licence.
This seems to have led to questions from some people on why the laws are tougher on new drivers.
The new measures are being introduced following a series of high-profile cases.
Twenty-two people were killed and 99 seriously injured in accidents on Britain’s roads in 2015 where a motorist using a mobile was a contributory factor, latest figures show.
Lorry driver Tomasz Kroker was jailed for 10 years in October after killing a woman and three children by ploughing into their stationary car on the A34 near Newbury, Berkshire, while distracted by his phone.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said increasing fixed penalties will be a “strong deterrent”.
He added: “Everyone has a part to play in encouraging their family and friends not to use their phones while driving. It is as inexcusable as drink driving.”
Has there been much research into drivers using phones at the wheel?
A survey from breakdown firm the RAC found that one in four (26%) motorists admits checking texts, emails and social media while driving.
Other research from the Transport Research Laboratory shows reaction times are twice as long for drivers who are texting compared with those who have been drinking.
How will the new law be enforced?
Police forces are carrying out a seven-day crackdown with extra patrols and an “increased focus” on catching drivers using handheld phones.
Around 3,600 motorists were handed penalties during a similar initiative last month.
But motoring groups believe a sharp decline in the number of offenders caught is partly due to police budget cuts affecting enforcement.
Meanwhile, the Department for Transport said members of the public can report repeat offenders anonymously by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
And what about the new campaigns pledging for people not to use their phone at the wheel?
There’s a new advert developed by the Government’s road safety group Think! and the AA Charitable Trust which shows a drunk man suggesting he should swap places with his sober girlfriend, who is texting on her phone while driving him home.
The campaign will be featured at cinemas and on billboards, radio and social media, with the message: “You wouldn’t drink and drive. Don’t text and drive”.
Meanwhile, the RAC is urging motorists to pledge not to use their phones while driving on its new BePhoneSmart.uk website.
RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said encouraging motorists to take personal responsibility for their actions must be at the heart of the campaign to change driving habits.