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  • Double Penalties for mobile use whilst driving from March 1st

    Mobile use whilst drivingAs from 1st March drivers caught using handheld mobile phones will face much tougher penalties. Due to concerns on lack of prosecutions and convictions for such an offense, and ultimately the failure to deter drivers from using their mobile phones whilst driving, these heavier sanctions have been brought in following on from earlier increases in penalties for HGV drivers

    The penalty for using a mobile phone whilst behind the wheel is now going to double from three points to six points and from a £100 fine to £200. In fact, newly qualified drivers may even be forced to retake their test the first time they are caught. If offenders are caught twice and therefore accrue 12 points, they will automatically appear in court and face a fine of up to £1,000 and a driving ban of up to six months, not to mention the effects on your motor fleet insurance premiums.

    The Government crackdown on mobile phone usage applies to England, Scotland and Wales and hopes to reflect the severity of the offense “use of mobiles at the wheel was as socially unacceptable as drink or drug-driving” said minister for transport, Chris Grayling.

    As time goes by, more and more evidence becomes available on the link between mobile phone usage and serious collisions. A week-long exercise last November saw more than 10,000 vehicles stopped and nearly 8,000 drivers prosecuted for a multitude of distractions whilst driving including eating and drinking whilst driving

    Failure to warn your drivers of the upcoming change in law could prove incredibly costly to your business, not to mention how significant those points could be from a fleet insurance perspective. Ensure you update you drivers now on the repercussions of breaking the law and highlight that due to changes in language within the law, that even if they handle their phone to answer a Bluetooth call they will be breaking the law.

    Studies have shown that the use of hands-free or handheld mobiles whilst driving significantly slows recognition and reaction to hazards on the road. Even just a split second distraction or lapse in concentration can result in a crash, such as even just receiving a text or call. All companies should therefore have a sound mobile phone policy in place which should be accessible to all those that drive for business purposes.

    The solution to problems in mobile phone usage is going to be in planning of business trips and ensuring important calls are made prior to journeys, as well as receiving support from the business to reduce pressure on drivers to be available at all times. Putting safety first, drivers should be comfortable to switch off their phones whilst the engine is running and to respond to any calls or messages once their journey is complete.

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