March’s tougher mobile phone laws have already been forgotten about

14th December 2017

Photo: ponsulak/iStock

New mobile phone laws introduced earlier this year have been forgotten about by police forces already, a road safety group has claimed.

Penalties for driving while using a mobile phone were doubled to a £200 fine and six penalty points in March. In this month, 5,258 motorists were hit with these tougher penalties.

Since then though, they nosedived to 1,865 the following month, then 1,918 in May and 1,387 in June, marking a 73 per cent drop from March to June.

Most of the penalties in the four months to June were given to drivers from Greater London (2,186), followed by Essex (580), the West Midlands (372), Hampshire (348) and Kent (308). A total of 736 drivers in Scotland and 392 in Wales received six points for using handsets behind the wheel in the same period.

Read more: Motorists who kill through dangerous driving now face life in prison

Licences revoked

Part of the law’s revision means that new drivers will lose their licence if caught using a handheld device behind the wheel and the significant drop-off is reprised in the number of licences revoked too.

After 104 new drivers had their licences torn up in the March, only 36 suffered the same fate in April, dropping to 32 in May and 22 in June, representing a 78 per cent drop between March and June.

Over the four months, 39 new motorists from Greater London had their driving licence cancelled, while 12 hailed from the West Midlands and ten from Essex, while Greater Manchester, Hampshire and Shropshire contributed seven.

Read more: Mobile phone driving situation “still remains dire” despite doubled penalties says RAC

Road safety charity Brake – which published the figures obtained from the DVLA – wants police forces to refocus its enforcement of mobile phone laws in a bid to reduce deadly crashes.

Jason Wakeford, Brake’s director of campaigns, said tougher laws had to be accompanied by rigorous enforcement in order to work.

“It's essential that police forces send out a clear message that drivers who flout the law will be caught and punished,” he commented.

Molly Benton, brand manager at Fuel Card Services, added: “Using a phone behind the wheel affects reaction times as much as drink driving and increases the chances of a fatal crash. Motorists need to realise that a phone call or text can wait until they pull over safely.”

Photo: ponsulak/iStock