Thursday, March 2, 2017

UK Toughens Rules on Driving on Phone

Broadly Welcomed but Concerns Remain on Enforcement
Shipping News Feature
UK – The doubling of penalties for drivers caught on their mobile phones by the British Government has been welcomed by broadly welcomed by road safety charities, though they still fear that the new punishments still don’t go far enough and that enforcement of the crime by the police is still under resourced.

From the 1 March drivers caught on their phone face an increased fine of £200 and six-points on their licence, double the previous punishment. New drivers face losing their licenses if caught. The Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, said:

“Our message is simple and clear: do not get distracted by your mobile phone while driving. It may seem innocent, but holding and using your phone at the wheel risks serious injury and even death to yourself and other road users.”

However, one road safety charity has raised concerns that the punishments are still not sufficient to deter drivers from using their phones. Gary Rae, Campaigns Director for Brake, said:

“The increase in the points is very welcome. However, when you realise that you can be fined £1,000 for not having a TV licence, then the £200 fine for illegally using a mobile looks woefully inadequate. We’re also very concerned about the ever dwindling number of roads traffic police. Their numbers have fallen by almost a third since 2010. There are now approximately 3,700 specialist traffic officers in England and Wales. We want the UK government to look again at this, and make roads policing a national priority.”

The new emphasis on the dangers of phone use is especially important for road freight drivers. With many pretty much now using the cab of their vehicles as an office and dealing with regular calls from their control offices and customers, the danger of distraction is extremely high, especially as freight vehicles are often the biggest and heaviest vehicles on the road and can cause horrendous damage in the event of an incident.

As part of their awareness campaign the government have released a video to highlight the costs of distracted driving.