Motorists caught using a handheld mobile phone when driving to face six penalty points and a £200 fine from 2017.

Under new rules announced by the Government this week, drivers caught using a hand held mobile phone while driving face increased penalties. Texting, making phone calls without a hands free kit or checking social media accounts will incur a £200 fine and six driving licence penalty points from 2017. Drivers who have recently passed their test face having their licence revoked and being forced to retake their test.

The new rules will come into force sometime in the first half of 2017 in England, Scotland and Wales, and could see fines of up to £1,000 with a six-month driving ban for drivers who are caught twice for the offence.

The Government announcement represents a substantial increase in the penalty attached to being caught using a mobile phone when driving with the current deterrents sitting at a £100 fine and 3 licence penalty points. It comes in the wake of the RAC’s Report on Motoring 2016 which showed that record numbers of motorists were using phones at the wheel.

The report indicated that 11 million motorists have admitted to making or receiving a call in the last 12 months and a further five million have taken photos or videos while driving. Phone use was highest among drivers aged 17 to 24.

Responding to news of the increased penalties, AA president Edmund King called the measures “radical” and said: “If we are to change the attitudes of young drivers maybe it has to be that harsh.”

DIA CEO Carly Brookfield commented ‘Increasing the penalty is one thing, enforcing it is another. Our concern is that mobile phone use is way harder to spot and monitor than other traffic offences and many motorists will realise that and continue to take the risk, thinking they won’t be caught. We also need to look at behavioural and educational interventions, particularly with the younger driver who have been identified in the RAC survey as being the most likely to use their phone. Or, if we feel this is such a key threat to road safety, maybe we take more radical measures to limit the ability to use phones at all when the car is on the move – and perhaps additionally discouraging the push by car manufacturers to make it easier to use your phone functions in car.’

As well as new penalties for mobile phone use, PM Theresa May has hinted that penalties for dangerous driving will get harsher across the board.

In response to concerns over the current penalties being too lenient on dangerous drivers causing fatal accidents,  she said recently: “I’m aware of the concern there is about the law in relation to dangerous driving. I’ve had a particular case about the daughter of some of my constituents who was killed as a result of dangerous driving.” The PM added: “This is a matter that I believe the Justice department is looking at.”

What do you think of the current penalties issued for driving offences and particularly the latest mobile phone use increase? Let us have your views below.