The Government has confirmed anyone caught using a hand-held mobile phone while at the wheel of a car will be fined £200 and receive six points on their licence.
This doubles the existing penalty and comes after the issue was brought into the spotlight last week when lorry driver Tomasz Kroker was jailed for 10 years after he killed a family of four in a crash caused by him being distracted by his mobile phone.
Motoring charity IAM RoadSmart has welcomed an increase in the punishment, saying drivers need to learn that their actions could kill.
Director of Policy and Research, Neil Greig, said: “Addressing the growing problem of smartphone use whilst driving will require a combination of enforcement and education as well as drivers, passengers, companies and individuals taking more responsibility.
“IAM RoadSmart is disappointed that the government did not support our calls for first time offenders to be sent automatically on a re-education course specifically tailored to mobile phone use and breaking our apparent addiction to being constantly connected. We also want to see car companies, mobile phone makers and social media providers working together to develop technical solutions to hand held mobile phone use in vehicles.”
Greig added: “It is essential that drivers get the clear message that if you are on the phone and have a fatal crash you can expect to go to prison for a long time. There is a lot of support among the driving public for stronger penalties and more enforcement focus on mobile phones, but also a feeling that this is not always reflected in sentencing.
“The Home Office must also review it’s policing priorities to ensure they reflect the risks that new technology can bring on the road.”