New drivers face losing their licence if they use their phones at the wheel under measures brought into force today (1 March 2017).
Motorists using a phone while driving will receive 6 points on their licence and a £200 fine – up from the previous 3 points and £100 penalty.
Drivers caught using their mobile twice or accruing 12 points on their licence will face magistrates’ court, being disqualified and fines of up to £1,000. New drivers, within two years of passing their test, risk having their licence revoked and truck or bus drivers can be suspended if caught.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “Our message is simple and clear: do not get distracted by your mobile phone while driving. It may seem innocent, but holding and using your phone at the wheel risks serious injury and even death to yourself and other road users.
“Doubling penalties will act as a strong deterrent to motorists tempted to pick up their phone while driving and will also mean repeat offenders could find themselves banned from our roads if they are caught twice.
“Everyone has a part to play in encouraging their family and friends not to use their phones while driving – it is as inexcusable as drink driving.”
The government has launched a THINK! campaign to warn drivers of the new penalties and the dangers of using mobiles while driving. The campaign will see adverts on billboards, radio and social media as well as a hard-hitting video in cinemas, which was developed in partnership with The AA Charitable Trust. Stickers and other in-car merchandise that encourage motorists to put their phone away and out of reach while driving will be distributed through partnerships with driving schools and car rental companies.
Chief Constable Suzette Davenport, National Police Chiefs’ Council roads policing lead, said: “These new penalties reflect the seriousness of the offence and will strengthen the deterrent against using a mobile phone at the wheel. We need people to understand that this is not a minor offence that they can get away with.”
The new penalties have come into force in England, Scotland and Wales.