On 1st March 2017 the new fixed penalty for using a handheld mobile while driving was introduced. From this date, those found to be using their phones whilst driving will receive 6 points on their licence and a £200 fine.
Although it has been illegal to use a handheld mobile whilst driving, or when stopped in a vehicle with the engine on since December 2003, the use of mobile phones whilst driving is still a huge problem throughout the UK. In a poll taken by the DVSA, 31% of drivers admitted to using their mobile phones whilst driving even though 96% of those asked agreed that it was unacceptable.
In this recent move to help eradicate the use of mobile phones when driving, THINK! has launched a campaign in light of this new fixed penalty, to highlight the dangers to drivers and other road users of this offence. THINK! have highlighted that drivers need to be aware that using their phones is just as dangerous as drink driving. In fact, research shows that drivers are twice as likely to have an accident when texting, as opposed to drink driving.
Using a mobile phone whilst driving distracts you, making you concentrate on two things at once, which our brain is not programmed to do effectively. Just looking at your phone for a few seconds to glance at a text takes your eyes off the road, creating a blind spot and potentially, a fatal accident.
In 2015 22 people were killed and 99 others seriously injured as a result of drivers using their phone behind the wheel. If you are an employer, or even a driver yourself, it is vital that you get educated on this new penalty and about the potential devastation that can be caused by looking at your phone, rather than the road. For vocational drivers, this offence could result in a hearing with the Traffic Commissioner, a 4-week suspension of their vocational licence or, in the event of a fatal incident, even a prison sentence.
So next time you’re tempted to read a text or take a call, think, and put your device away until you have safely pulled over and turned off the ignition.