Six penalty points and a £200 fine for using a hand-held mobile device when driving should certainly concentrate most people’s minds and hopefully act as a deterrent. On my journeys over the last four days, since the new penalties came into force on 1st March, I have seen less “obvious” use of phones by drivers but “sneaky texting” in slow moving traffic is as prevalent as ever.
There is no excuse for it. It is extremely selfish, potentially dangerous and against the law. Drivers who use phones when driving are:
- Less aware of their surroundings
- Fail to see road signs
- More likely to tailgate
- React more slowly
- Four times more likely to crash
New drivers who have held a full licence for less than 2 years, will have their licences revoked if caught. The six points on their licence for 3 years will lead to a huge increase in insurance premiums too.
To be clear about the law, you can only use a hand-held phone if you need to make an emergency call (999 or 112) and it is unsafe to stop. If you pull into a make a call, ensure your engine is switched off and the keys are not in the ignition.
An RAC report in 2016 demonstrated that record numbers of motorists using phones when driving and those saying it was acceptable doubled from 7% to 14%. The RAC also found that 17 – 24 year olds were most likely to use them, adding to the already increased risk of this age group having crashes. Even the Prime Minister, Theresa May, stated we must get to a point very soon where society sees this menace as “culturally unacceptable” in the same way as we view drinking and driving.
Personally, I wouldn’t ever travel with a driver who even glances at a phone when driving. They are a wonderful piece of technology, but when we drive a vehicle they should be switched off or, at least, out of arm’s length. Help keep our roads safer – when driving a vehicle, “switch your brain on and your phone off”!