Thousands caught using mobiles at the wheelFirst results released since laws were toughened

27 March 2007

 

A close-up of someone holding a mobile phone.

More than 246 drivers a day have been fined for using a hand-held mobile phone while driving since laws were toughened one month ago.

At least 6,891 people in England and Scotland have been fined £60 and - for the first time - had three points added to their licence.

Research by The Press Association revealed that £413,460 is due to be paid in fines - twice what would have been paid under earlier legislation.

But the true figure could be far higher as many forces, including the UK's largest, the Metropolitan Police, did not provide figures.

Mobile phone

No figures were also made available by any Welsh force or the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

In an unexpected twist, at least six motorists have been fined under the new law for using their phone while instructing a learner driver.

Police in Cleveland, Dorset and Bedfordshire caught instructors, or experienced motorists directing a learner, using a phone while legally in charge of the vehicle.

Furthermore, 17 drivers were fined for not being in proper control of vehicle when using a hands-free kit.

On February 27, the fixed-penalty fine for offenders doubled to £60 and those caught also faced three penalty points on their licence for the first time.

Penalty points

Courts were also given powers to give a maximum fine of £1,000 or £2,500 in the case of a driver of a bus, coach or goods vehicle.

Meredydd Hughes, Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police, said: ‘It is quite clear that the tough new penalties along with tougher enforcement are having an effect on making motorists think twice about using a mobile phone when driving.

‘These figures are encouraging, although it is too soon to fully evaluate the effect these changes have had.’

Road deaths

Diane Ferreira, of road safety group Brake, said the penalties were welcome, but did not go far enough.

The group has called for fines of up to £1,000 and six penalty points to reflect the danger of using a mobile phone at the wheel.

She said: ‘We want people to be caught because it acts as a deterrent if the law is seen to be enforced.

‘It is great news that a lot of people have been caught and are learning their lesson, but it is also very sad that so many people are flouting the law.

‘This is a very serious crime. Unless we get the message across people are going to continue to die at the hands of people who are 'just' making a call or sending a text.’

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