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Driving Whilst Using A Mobile Phone – Penalty to Increase

driving whilst using a mobile phoneDriving Whilst Using A Mobile Phone – Penalty To Increase


The government has announced tougher sanctions for driving whilst using a mobile phone. Both the financial and points penalties will double – the fine increasing from £100 to £200 and 6 points endorsed to a licence instead of the former 3 points.


The reasons for this proposed change to the law are many and include: the increase in unlawful mobile phone use whilst driving; the lack of prosecutions and convictions for this offence; and the failure of the general public to take the offence seriously.


Importantly, a number of high-profile cases has tipped the balance in favour of making penalties more punitive. These include the death of cyclist, Lee Martin, 48, in 2015, who was killed by a driver who had eight previous convictions for using his phone at the wheel.


Part of the problem is that mobile phones are ubiquitous these days, and a taken-for-granted item for the younger generation, who have never been without them. However, mobile phone use crosses age and gender divisions. To put our collective mobile phone use into some sort of context, a survey earlier this year showed that the average person swipes, taps and pinches their display about 2,617 times a day.


So, changing attitudes towards driving whilst using a mobile phone is vitally important.


Minister for Transport, Chris Grayling, said that driving whilst using a mobile phone was as socially unacceptable as drink or drug-driving. For this reason, he urged people to be watchful about the habits of their friends and family members and to help discourage people in their close circle from using mobile phones whilst driving.


The change in legislation will have dire consequences for newly qualified drivers (who have held their licences for less than 2 years), as they stand to have their licences revoked on reaching 6 points. As a result of this, they would return to learner driver status and have to reapply for a provisional licence until they have once again passed both theory and practical tests.


A source at the Department for Transport has said that a disproportionate number of those caught driving and using a mobile phone were either young, a newly qualified driver, or both.


This means that many newly qualified drivers could face the revocation of their licences after one mobile phone offence, whereas before this would have meant they had their new licence endorsed with 3 points and were effectively given a ‘second chance’ before they faced a revocation.


Another group of drivers who would be hit hard by the change in legislation is those in a ‘totting up’ position. As it stands, once an experienced driver (who has held their licence for more than 2 years) reaches – or exceeds – 12 penalty points, they automatically fall to be disqualified for a period of 6 months, unless they have grounds by which they can conduct a successful Exceptional Hardship application.


So, for those motorists with 6 points on their driving licences, who could have previously absorbed another 3 points for a mobile phone offence without tipping over the important 12 point limit, this means a 6 month disqualification under the ‘totting up’ provisions.


In line with the government’s commitment to be tougher on mobile phone use whilst driving, the Department for Transport is soon to launch a new ‘Think!’ campaign, to help raise awareness. It is hoped that the combination of re-education and tougher sanctions will act as a deterrent and make people think twice about using their mobile whilst driving.


If you have been charged with driving whilst using a mobile phone, or have questions about either a revocation of a licence or disqualification as a result of the ‘totting up’ of points, please contact our office today on 01623 397200 for free, initial advice.


#dontstreamanddrive Legal Implications

Tracy Johnson, Paralegal at Forrest Williams Solicitors


by Tracy Johnson


In the news this week, the latest fad of recording or streaming video from mobile phones while driving is being discouraged by Neil, a serving police sergeant, in an unofficial social media campaign.


Neil, a prolific Twitter user also known as @SgtTCS (who does not wish his surname to be known), used a driving simulator at the Transport Research Laboratory in Berkshire to demonstrate the effects of streaming and driving and the dangers caused to other road users as a result.


During the driving simulation, Neil recorded a video on a smartphone stuck to the windscreen, looking at the phone and not the motorway, which caused the car to drift dangerously out of lane while travelling at speeds in excess of 70mph. In addition, his reaction times were impaired.


Neil has organised an unofficial online campaign called #dontstreamanddrive to highlight the dangers of streaming and driving.


Racing driver Lewis Hamilton was recently criticised for posting a video-selfie on social app Snapchat showing him riding a motorbike in New Zealand. But there are many non-celebrities doing similarly dangerous things and then sharing the footage on social media, with the numbers of live streaming growing daily.


An increasing number of people are using the Periscope app for live streaming from their mobiles while driving, while others are recording video-selfies (like Hamilton) and posting them on online.


Neil aims to raise awareness of the fact that live streaming whilst driving is unsafe as it means the driver’s attention is not where it should be.


He is also very concerned about the opportunities for interaction provided by some apps, which has led to some drivers being observed performing for the camera and responding to comments.


If drivers are not touching the mobile phone, then a mobile phone offence is arguably not being committed. However, if they are driving dangerously then other offences may apply, such as driving without due care and attention, dangerous driving and potentially even death by dangerous driving if a fatal collision results.


Official figures show that using mobile phones while driving accounted for 21 fatal accidents in 2014. Currently there is a consultation on the introduction of stiffer penalties for people using hand-held mobiles.


Alice Bailey, from the road safety charity Brake, says she would like to see those penalties increase and that she supports #dontstreamanddrive. “You’re actually three times more likely to crash if you do a second complex task while you’re driving,” she argues.


The Department for Transport advice on streaming and driving is this: “The message is clear – keep your eyes on the road, not on your phone, or you could end up being banned from the road.”


Neil’s unofficial campaign has attracted support from police and road safety Twitter accounts across the country, as well as plenty of ordinary drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. He hopes in the end that the reaction on social media may help make streaming and driving socially unacceptable.


If you are being charged with an offence because of streaming and driving, call our team of expert motoring lawyers now on 01623 397200. 


specialist motoring solicitors in Mansfield


Driving Whilst Using A Mobile Phone or No Seatbelt

Driving Whilst Using a Mobile Phone or No Seatbelt


The Department for Transport has announced the results of its recent surveys into the use of mobile phones and seatbelts by motorists in England (and Scotland).


The surveys, carried out in 2014, in some ways mirror the findings of the previous surveys, which were carried out in 2009.


For example, the proportion of car drivers observed using hand-held mobile phones in England in 2014 was 1.5%, whereas the figure for the 2009 was 1.4%.


The survey found that drivers were more likely to be observed with a mobile phone in their hand rather than holding it to their ear. In 2014, (1.1% of drivers in England and Scotland were observed holding a phone in their hand compared with 0.5% observed holding the phone to their ear.)


A higher proportion of drivers in England and Scotland were observed using a hand-held mobile phone when stationary (2.3 %) than in moving traffic (1.6 %).


And, in case you were wondering how these figures apply to male and female drivers, the survey would suggest that women drivers are more law-abiding than men. A significantly higher proportion of male drivers were observed using hand-held mobile phones than female drivers; 1.7% of male drivers in England and Scotland were observed using a hand-held mobile phone compared with 1.3% of female drivers.


The type of vehicle being driven also appears in the survey results. Bus, coach and minibus drivers are least likely to have been observed holding a mobile phone, at just 0.4% of drivers, whereas 2.7% of van drivers were seen holding a mobile, making this group of drivers the most frequent offenders. Goods vehicle and lorry drivers were at 1.2%, with car drivers just ahead at 1.4%.


As regards seat belt use, 98.2% of car drivers were observed using seat belts in England and Scotland.


However, seat belt wearing rates were lower for other car occupants compared to car drivers. 96.7% of all front seat passengers and 90.6% of all rear seat passengers were observed using seat belts or child restraints in England and Scotland.


The gender divide for the wearing of seatbelts shows that in this area, too, women drivers are more law-abiding than men. Male drivers in England and Scotland had a lower seat belt wearing rate (93.7%) than female drivers (98.2%).


Interestingly, there would appear to be an age-related dynamic to the wearing of seatbelts, with rates being higher for drivers aged 17-29 and aged 60 and over (96.1% and 96.5%) and seat belt wearing rates for drivers aged 30-59 lower at 94.7%.


For all front seat passengers in England and Scotland, the age group with the lowest restraint wearing rate was aged 14-29 (92.8%). Front seat passengers aged 0-13 (93.2%), 30-59 (94%) and 60 & over (97.3%) had higher rates.


For all rear seat passengers in England and Scotland, the age group with the lowest restraint wearing rate was aged 14-29 (83.7%). Rear seat passengers aged 0-4 (94.4%), 5-9 (92.3%), 10-13 (88%), 30-59 (87.8%) and 60 & over (91.6%) had higher rates.


So, as regards the survey figures for passengers, teenagers or young adults would appear to be less likely to wear seatbelts whether in the front or rear seats. The youngest people (below 14 years) or oldest (30 years and above) are the ones most likely to wear seatbelts.


In summary, according to the 2014 Seatbelt and Mobile Phone Use Surveys, most drivers do not use mobile phones whilst driving but do ‘belt up’. So although the focus of the survey is on the things drivers and passengers are doing wrong, most of us are getting it right!


 If you are being charged with a motoring offence, contact us now for expert advice on 01623 397200.



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