posted 2 months ago

Back New Driving On Phone Penalties With Enforcement, Says FTA

Department for Transport plans to further penalise mobile users and Freight Transport Association calls for better enforcement.

Fixed Penalty Notice and penalty points

Department for Transport plans to increase penalties for using a hand-held mobile behind the wheel must be backed by better enforcement, The Freight Transport Association argues. The Department - following its public consultation – plans to propose legislation to Parliament to raise the cost of the Fixed Penalty Notice plus the number of licence penalty points offenders receive.

The Fixed Penalty Notice for non-professional and heavy goods vehicle drivers should rise from £100 to £200, The Department states. Further, the number of points should rise from 3 to 6. It also argues that first time offenders should no longer be able to take a course in preference to accepting the more severe penalties.

Motorists typically receive a ban once they collect 12 penalty points within 3 years. New motorists – specifically those that passed the practical test within the last 2 years – only require 6 penalty points, however. The Department for Transport proposals could, therefore, enforce a “1 strike and you are banned” scenario.

Proposals make motorists consider consequences

Ian Gallagher, Freight Transport Association Head of Driver and Vehicle Licensing Policy, argues: “These proposed changes should go some way towards making all drivers think about the consequences of their actions. Vocational drivers also risk their livelihood as many of our members already have in place a zero tolerance for employees in breach of these rules.”

He adds: “FTA agrees that these increased penalties should work to dissuade use, particularly in new drivers who risk losing their licence altogether. However, what is needed is a new effort to ensure the rules are enforced. Without enforcement, increasing the fines and penalties could have little impact on habitual users.”

On this basis, The Freight Transport Association: “Welcomes the Department for Transport's commitment to provide additional guidance or advice and consider new technology where it aids detection and ensure effective prosecution by the police”, it says.

Consultation conclusions

The Department for Transport consultation process enabled individuals and organisations to consider the issues that surround the use of hand-held mobiles whilst driving. Notable facts include: 

  • 99% of respondents “agree” that using a hand-held mobile phone while driving is dangerous;
  • 96% of respondents are “in favour” of increasing sanctions;
  • 94% of respondents “support” the proposal to raise the cost of the Fixed Penalty Notice;
  • 94% of respondents “support” the proposal to increase the number of associated penalty points.

The RAC's response to the consultation and claims: "There is a substantial body of evidence from around the world that confirms that using a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving is a major distraction and can increase the chance of road traffic accidents.”