Mobile phone driving law penalty should be increased as lawyer pushes for ‘social stigma’

Mobile phone driving law penalty should be increased as lawyer pushes for ‘social stigma’

Mobile phone use while behind the wheel needs to become a “social stigma” in the same way drink driving has due to the serious risks involved, says Mr Freeman. The lawyer warned using a phone behind the wheel offers the same level of distraction as drink driving with road users four times more likely to have an accident. 

He said motorists needed to become “ashamed” by their friends for using a phone behind the wheel to ensure the safety message was picked up. 

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Freeman said: “We need an increase in penalty and we need to create a social stigma in the same way we have done for drinking and driving. 

“So people are ashamed by their peer group. [They say] actually do not use your phone while driving because it is dangerous. 

“People do not realise the level of distraction is the same level as drink driving. When you’re driving at just over your four times more likely to have an accident. 

READ MORE: Police officers ‘using their brains’ with new tool

Fines may rise under some circumstances with police officers within their right to issue careless driving charges if road users are putting other road users in danger. 

Driving without dir care and attention could see fines increase to £2,500 while dangerous driving can see bills issued as high as £5,000. 

Using a phone behind the wheel is also against the Highway Code and many car insurance providers could refuse payouts  if this was considered to be the cause of an accident. 

This is because the collision could be viewed as a driver’s own fault which could leave owners to be forced into paying for expensive vehicle repairs. 

The House of Commons Transport Committee revealed in a July 2019 report that some had suggested the fine was an “insufficient deterrent”. 

The report said over a third of respondents to a consultation on increasing the penalty had suggested increasing charges.  

Suggestions ranged from £250 to as high as £10,000 while respondents also pushed for more penalty points. 

The report reveals there was some change in behavior when tougher fines were introduced in 2017 due to publicity around the changes. 

But research from the RAC found 23 percent of motorists confess to making or receiving calls while driving. 

This rate soared to a massive 51 percent among drivers aged between 17 and 24 in a shocking revelation. 

The Transport Committee recommended the Government should review the current penalties and consider whether they should be increased to “better reflect” the risks.  

To better promote the safety risks and possible financial implications of using a phone, Mr Freeman is pushing for better advertising appeals. 

Mr Freeman told Express.co.uk: “There needs to be an advertising campaign  like there used to be with clunk click for safety belts where they had [the driver] going through the windscreen. 

“A message that’s hard hitting so that the drivers will actually think I’m going to leave that message and deal with it later. You need something to impact on the driver.”

Published at Wed, 17 Jun 2020 10:18:00 +0000