Drivers caught using hand-held mobiles could face tougher penalties under new plans being considered by ministers.

A Department for Transport consultation says the government’s “preferred option” is to increase both penalty points and fines for offenders.

Launched on Tuesday, it cites research suggesting 9% of motorists regularly take “selfies” when behind the wheel.

Changing Technology

The consultation will look at whether technology could put motorists’ phones into a “drive-safe mode” automatically.

“These proposals ultimately aim to reduce the number of deaths and injuries on the roads,” says the government.

The measures relate directly to England and Wales but the document notes that its impact may apply in Scotland.

According to the document, 3,611 reported accidents between 2009-2014 “occurred where at least one driver” was on their phone, but it cautions this is likely to be “significantly under recorded”.

Sending a Clear Message

Under proposals being considered to improve safety, the number of penalty points given to a motorist using their phone while driving could rise from three to four.

Drivers of Heavy Goods Vehicles could be handed up to six points on their licence.

First time offenders could continue to be offered the chance to attend police safety courses to avoid an endorsement on their licence.

The fine for using a phone whilst driving would also be raised, from £100 to £150.

The document admits that a previous increase in the fine in 2013 – which took it from £60 to £100 – had “no statistically significant change to the number of drivers observed using a hand-held mobile phone from 2009-2014”. But it says a bigger fine would “act as a further deterrent for offending behaviour”.

Taken together, the changes would “send a clear message on the seriousness of the offence” and reduce “the number of times and offender needed to be caught before being disqualification”, it adds.

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