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Increased Fines for Texting and Driving

According to the government, drivers who are caught using their hand held devices such as mobile phones could face much harsher punishments with increased fines and doubling points.

Next year new rules are expected to be released causing drivers to get six points to their license and a fine of £200. If newly qualified drivers are caught they could be forced to retake their exam.

But for some people this increase in penalties won’t be enough to cover the loss of a loved one, injured or killed by someone looking down at their phone and not paying attention to the road and their surroundings.

The new rules will be applied to England, Scotland and Wales. Northern Ireland drivers are currently given three points on their license and fined £60 but this could also change later on. Experienced drivers who offend twice could be facing fines of up to £1,000 and a six-month driving ban.

The Department for Transportation expects these rules changes to take place during the first half of 2017.

A survey completed by the RAC involving 1,700 people said that nearly a third admitted to texting, making calls or using apps whilst driving. With 14% saying they have taken photos or videos whilst on the wheel.

Figures from the Department of Transportation showed that 492 accidents in 2014 were caused by drivers being impaired or distracted by their mobile devices with 21 of those accidents being fatal and another 84 classified as serious.

Chris Grayling the Transport Secretary said “It may seem harmless when you are replying to a text, answering a call or using an app, but the truth is your actions could kill and cause untold misery to others.”

For years it has been illegal to text and drive, with numerous campaigns trying to promote the consequences of texting and driving. Despite all efforts the RAC say the number of texters on the road has been increasing since 2014.

Now the government is stepping in. By increasing the penalties and fines it hopes to send out a message to young new drivers as well as more experienced drivers that it is illegal and as unacceptable as drunk-driving.

Clearly a big question is, how will these new laws be enforced.

The reason the RAC believes the number of driver’s texting and driving has increased is due to the decrease in traffic police numbers. A camera will not catch you using your phone illegally, only a watching police officer can do that.

Labour MP Louise Ellman the chairwoman of the Transport Select Committee said that detection rates need to be higher if these new rules are to have any effect. Maybe the New Year will see a change in the police force with more officers out on the roads catching people driving illegally and endangering others, we shall have to wait and find out.

posted by: Abigail Lavallin 27 September 2016

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