AA welcomes crack down on mobile use

Embargoed to 0001 Monday October 19'PICTURE POSED BY MODEL 'File photo dated 13/08/14 of a woman talking on her phone while driving. Prosecutions for motorists using a phone at the wheel are down by almost half in five years despite a study showing the potentially dangerous practice is more common, official figures show. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday October 19, 2015. Data released by the Ministry of Justice last month show that just 17,414 prosecutions for drivers using their phone at the wheel were launched in magistrates' courts in England and Wales last year, down by 47% from 32,571 in 2009. See PA story TRANSPORT Phone. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire PPP-151018-181249001
Embargoed to 0001 Monday October 19'PICTURE POSED BY MODEL 'File photo dated 13/08/14 of a woman talking on her phone while driving. Prosecutions for motorists using a phone at the wheel are down by almost half in five years despite a study showing the potentially dangerous practice is more common, official figures show. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday October 19, 2015. Data released by the Ministry of Justice last month show that just 17,414 prosecutions for drivers using their phone at the wheel were launched in magistrates' courts in England and Wales last year, down by 47% from 32,571 in 2009. See PA story TRANSPORT Phone. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire PPP-151018-181249001

The AA has welcomed welcome the Government’s announcement that it plans to increase the penalty for hand-held mobile phone offences while driving.

Motorists who use handheld mobile phones while driving are to face increased penalties and higher fines under proposals from the Department for Transport.

As part of the government’s Road Safety Plan, to be published this week, the fixed penalty notice for dangerous mobile use will rise to £150 from £100, while persistent offenders will face having four penalty points imposed instead of three.

The proposals are targeted particularly at re offenders and most first-time offenders will be offered an educational course in an effort to improve their behaviour.

Offenders who are drivers of heavy goods vehicles, which can cause more severe accidents, will have their penalty points double from three to six.

In 2014, mobile phone usage was a contributing factor in 21 fatal road accidents and 84 serious accidents. The government will instigate a consultation on its proposals in the coming weeks.

AA Insurance hailed the proposals as ‘a victory for common sense’ and added that vehicle insurers already take the offence very seriously.

A motorist convicted of a mobile phone offence can on average, expect to see a premium increase double that for a speeding offence.

Michael Lloyd, from AA Insurance, said: “Drivers using a handheld mobile phone are at four times greater risk of having a crash than a driver not using one and I am delighted that the penalty will now better reflect the seriousness of this offence.

“While drivers may mistakenly exceed a speed limit, no-one uses a handheld phone by mistake. It’s a deliberate act that seriously diverts attention from driving, significantly heightening the risk of a crash.”

He added that a few insurance companies might overlook a first speeding offence while most will ignore those who opt to take a safety awareness course instead of a fine . “But all insurers will penalise those who commit a mobile phone offence and some may even decline to renew cover.”

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