Motorists who flout the law by using a hand-held mobile phone while driving will now face tougher penalties.
The current fine of £30 is being doubled to £60 and the motorist will also get three points on their licence. Points can lead to higher insurance costs. If the case goes to court the maximum fine is £1,000.
Officers from Leicestershire Police's Road Policing Unit will be targeting motorists using hand-held mobile phones throughout March as part of a month long crackdown.
The tougher new penalties have been introduced as research continues to show that talking on a mobile phone while driving affects your concentration and ability to react to dangerous situations.
The law banning the use of hand-held mobile phones behind the wheel was introduced in 2003. However we are aware that too many motorists are still prepared to risk their own safety, and the safety of their passengers or other road users, by continuing to take calls and text messages.
Tests have shown that a driver cannot help but be distracted by a phone call or text message, and if you are distracted you will not register hazards or react as quickly. If you are using your mobile phone while driving you are four times more likely to have a crash.
Our advice is to switch off before you drive off. At best your call could cost you £60 and three points on you licence. At worst it could cost a life.
We are also urging people to act responsibly if they call someone and realise they are driving. Stop the call and arrange to speak to them later. How would you feel if your call distracted them and led to a collision.
While driving, you will be breaking the law if you pick up or use any type of phone that must be held to operate it. This means that it is illegal to use your mobile phone:
- when you are stopped at traffic lights
- when you are queuing in traffic
- to receive calls, pictures, text messages or to access the internet.
You can also be prosecuted for using a hands-free mobile phone if you are not in proper control of your vehicle. The penalties will be the same as for using a hand-held phone. The penalties for driving carelessly or dangerously when using any phone can include disqualification, a large fine and up to two years imprisonment.