The Department for Transport has launched a consultation on whether harsher penalties should be introduced for motorists caught using handheld mobile phones at the wheel, and has posted a survey online to canvass the public’s views.
Currently, a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) of £100 applies to the offence, and offenders also have their driving licence endorsed with three penalty points.
Last month, secretary of state for transport Patrick McLoughlin announced plans to increase the fine to £150 and for motorists to receive four penalty points or six if they are behind the wheel of an HGV at the time the offence was committed.
He said: "Using a mobile phone at the wheel is reckless and costs lives - I want to see it become a social taboo like not wearing a seatbelt.
"The message is clear: keep your hands on the wheel, not your phone. If you keep taking calls while at the wheel, you could end up being banned from the road."
However, with cuts in the number of police officers dedicated to traffic duties, road safety charities say that increased penalties need to be accompanied by greater enforcement of the law regarding the use of mobile phones to make voice calls, check email and social media feeds or surf websites while driving.
The consultation remains open until 15 March.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.