On March 1st this year, the government increased the penalties for using a mobile device whilst driving. This followed an increase in the number of accidents – many serious or fatal – where a driver distracted by their phone was a contributory factor.
The hope was that by doubling the fine from £100 to £200, and the penalty points from three to six, it would be a major deterrent to those tempted to interrupt their concentration from the road ahead.
For drivers within the first two-year period of passing their test, the penalty is even harsher. They face an immediate ban from driving.
However, according to a poll of 1,500 drivers, by Co-op Insurance, the deterrent effect might not be having the desired result.
Eighteen percent of those questioned admitted they still use their mobile to reply to emails or browse Facebook while on the road. Many more owned up to being distracted by ‘tweaking’ their sat-nav app or changing the music playing from their phone.
Government guidelines are very specific. The only time it is permissible to use a phone while in control of a vehicle is:
- when you are safely parked with the engine off.
- to dial 999 or 112 in an emergency and only when it is unsafe or impractical to stop.
This also applies to anyone who supervises a learner driver, or who pays at a drive-through restaurant by using their phone while the engine is still running.
In short, using any mobile device in your car which has the potential to distract you from the road ahead, could provide a reason for the police to stop and question you.
The only sensible solution appears to be to place your mobile in the boot, or the glove compartment, before setting off.
Removing temptation could save you a costly fine – or worse!
(Pic courtesy of DEESIDE.COM)