News Article

Penalty points and fines to double for texting drivers

Published 6 October 2016 by

You probably think nothing of multitasking as part of your daily life – whether you balance your laptop on your knee while watching TV or listen to your favourite podcast on your morning jog.

With that said, there are some tasks that you should give your full concentration to, and driving is definitely one of them. You could now face stricter penalties if you're caught texting and driving, with fines and points to double under new Government rules.

To make sure you know the consequences of using your mobile while driving, we're going to take you through the new penalties.

Stricter punishments

The rules are expected to come into effect in the first half of 2017. They’ll see drivers get six points on their licence instead of the current three and an immediate fine of £200, rising from £100.

New drivers could be made to retake their test if caught texting and driving, or even lose their licence altogether if they're caught. And more experienced drivers could find themselves going to court if they double-offend and even face fines of up to £1,000 and a six-month driving ban.

These regulations will apply to England, Scotland and Wales and accompany a Government Think! campaign. In Northern Ireland, drivers currently get three penalty points and a £60 fine for the offence and there are no current plans to change this.

These stricter sanctions come at a growing concern over the lack of prosecutions taking place for texting drivers, and over the number of people who admit to using their phones while driving.

According to an RAC survey, the number of motorists illegally using their mobile phones while at the wheel is rising. The annual report found that 31 per cent of drivers said they used a handheld phone behind the wheel – in comparison to just 8 per cent in 2014.

Drivers who used their phone to send a message or post on social media jumped from 7 per cent to 19 per cent, and 14 per cent said they had taken a photograph or video while driving.

Think before you act

There's no escaping the fact that our phones play a big part in our lives – connecting us to our friends and family on social media, and the world through instant news – but there's a time and a place for using yours.

To help you avoid using your phone while driving, remember the following tips.

• Turn your phone on silent so that you're not distracted by the familiar ring or buzz.

• Unless you need to be reached, turn your phone off completely to eliminate temptation.

• Secure your mobile in the glove department or in a zipped up part of your bag.

• Avoid making or answering calls when driving, even if you're using a hands-free phone.

• Park safely before using your mobile phone again.

Find out if you need to declare points to your insurer if you get caught texting while driving.

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