The law tightens around drivers who text

Fines and penalty points to double

Earlier this month, the RAC released its annual Report on Motoring, prompting a flurry of debate on the perils of texting while driving.

In the report the RAC identified that motorists are becoming increasingly concerned with other drivers’ use of their phones. Motorists’ worries seem justified by the results of the survey, with 31% of respondents claiming to have made or received calls in the last 12 months while driving.

The alarming statistics don’t stop there. 19% of respondents admitted to having written and sent texts, emails or social media updates while behind the wheel, with a further 26% admitting to having checked messages while driving in the last 12 months.

Government responds quickly

The RAC certainly seem to have highlighted a hot topic of concern for motorists and government bodies alike. The report prompted The Department for Transport to follow up with an announcement confirming that they are committed to cracking down on texting while driving.

Early in 2016, the government carried out a consultation on changes to the Fixed Penalty Notice and penalty points for the use of a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving. They are due to announce the findings soon. Among other reasons, the report was prompted following concern that as many as 21 fatal accidents were attributed to using a mobile phone whilst driving during 2014. It’s possible that this figure could be larger, as proving that a driver using a mobile phone was a contributory factor to an accident can be a challenge.

Doubling of points could see new drivers banned for a first offence

Although using a mobile phone while driving has been an offence since 2007, recent comments by The Department for Transport indicate that the findings will go further than the changes proposed in the consultation. The Department is likely to recommend a doubling of the current fines and points to six points and a £200 fine, to be implemented in the first half of 2017.

New drivers are likely to face the biggest impact from these proposed changes. Within the first two years of passing their driving test, drivers will automatically have their licence revoked if they gain six or more points. This means that under the potential changes outlined by the Department for Transport, new drivers found texting while driving will face an automatic driving ban.

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