Brake In Tough Phone Use Penalty Call

Brake Urges Government To Impose Harsher Sentences For Mobile Law Breakers


Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397
Road safety charity Brake has called on the government to introduce tougher penalties for motorists who break the law by using a mobile phone behind the wheel.

The organisation has responded warmly to reports that the government is planning to double the points penalty for this offence. It is said to have been recommended by Metropolitan Police chief Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe to transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin, who is considering the idea.

Expressing the hope that the government will implement the suggestion, deputy chief executive of Brake Julie Townsend noted that the organisation has long campaigned for stiffer penalties for the use of mobile phones by drivers. However, she said, these should be even stiffer than the proposals by Sir Bernard.

She remarked: "An increase in penalty points is a step in the right direction, but it could provide a more effective deterrent if combined with an increase in the fixed penalty fine to £500-£1,000, as well as heightened traffic enforcement, so risky law-breaking drivers know they will not get away with it."

Ms Townsend also called for the offence to affect users of hands-free phones in exactly the same way as hand-held mobiles, saying research has shown their use can be just as dangerous as that of mobiles.

The comments on the use of mobile phones in cars come as the government has been considering the penalties for a wide array of motoring offences. This would be with the emphasis being on giving consideration to proposals for much tougher sentences, with larger fines, more points on licences and longer jail terms for the most serious infringements.

Sir Bernard Hogan-Lowe is reported to have used a dinner with journalists to float the idea, commenting: "The person using their phone doesn't realise the damage or the danger they can be in."

The use of mobiles while driving was banned in 2003, but many drivers continue to break the law in this way.

Home Office figures for 2012 showed more than 92,500 fixed penalty notices were issued to motorists for using handheld phones behind the wheel, although that represented a 32 per cent fall on the 2011 total of 123,000.

Expert Opinion
Collisions on the road can have serious consequences for those involved, as well as their friends and family. Statistics have shown that using a mobile phone behind the wheel is extremely distracting and failing to concentrate for a split second can have disastrous impact.

"Through our work we help to offer support for victims who have suffered serious injuries on the road and would welcome tougher penalties on those who continue to put the safety of others at risk by using their mobile phone while driving.

"Road users need to consider their actions while behind the wheel and take responsibility. Some people believe it won’t happen to them, but it is better to be safe than sorry, and not pick up the phone while driving."
Stephen Nye, Partner