The 1st March 2018 marked the anniversary of the increase in severity of fixed penalties for using a mobile phone while driving, increasing this from three points and a £100 fine to six points and a £200 fine.  Since then more than 26,000 motorists have been caught driving whilst using a mobile phone, and of those 500 were new drivers who had been on the road for less than two years and who, as a result, lost their licenses.  THINK! are now producing an advertising campaign designed to highlight the risks of using a mobile phone at the wheel, as well as the risks of getting caught doing so.

In addition to this, in October 2017 the government announced that, following a consultation, they would be changing the sentencing guidelines surrounding causing death by dangerous driving when the dangerousness includes the use of a mobile phone.  The effect of this change is to increase the maximum sentence from 14 years, which it is at present, to life imprisonment.  The government has not yet given a date for these changes to take effect and we expect to hear more about them before they come into force.

The government believe that the legislative changes and the awareness campaigns by organisations such as THINK! and "Be Phone Smart" are having a positive effect and are changing the driving behaviours of UK drivers.  It is hoped that this trend will continue making the roads safer for road users and pedestrians alike.

Separate to the criminal issue of using a mobile phone while driving, is the way in which such offences are treated by the Traffic Commissioner.  In January this year a PSV driver was called to a driver conduct hearing as a passenger had filmed the driver using Google Maps on his mobile phone, while driving a tour group in Croatia.  In response the Traffic Commissioner revoked the driver's PSV entitlement and banned him from reapplying for a period of 12 months.  Because the incident took place outside the UK the driver did not face a UK prosecution.

The Traffic Commissioner also called the Operator to a Public Inquiry and issued a formal warning in part because the company did not have a written policy in place governing the use of mobile phones by its drivers.  The company said that they did have a mobile phone policy, but that it had been explained to the drivers without the explanation also being supplied in writing.  The Traffic Commissioner made it clear that this was not sufficient and that all operators ought to have a written mobile phone policy in place.

It seems that the risk to drivers of being caught using mobile phones is increasing and that the penalties are becoming even more severe.

Should you require any assistance with the drafting or implementing of an appropriate policy, or if you would like our specialist team to review your internal systems and policies to ensure compliance, please contact us on 01279 818280 now.

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