You may have seen a lot of articles in the news the last few weeks around the new penalty changes due to take affect from 1st March 2017 for using a hand held device behind the wheel. Last November the police in England, Northern Ireland and Wales clamped down heavily on offenders using their phones whilst driving and issued 8,000 fines over the course of a week. In this time they also delivered an abundance of verbal warnings and court summonses for other means of distracted driving such as eating, smoking, reading, and changing the music on CD/MP3 players.
A whopping 78% of crashes involve the person behind the steering wheel being preoccupied with these sorts of activities (according to Allianz Center for Technology, AZT). The RAC also report that – texting is not only a common cause of this preoccupation, but also has a significant impact on reaction times. Reaction times are 35% slower if texting whilst driving.
The reality of using a mobile behind the wheel
Death caused by dangerous driving (whether it be as a result of drink or drug driving, or using a mobile behind the wheel) can have irreparable and devastating effects on the victims’ families and is sadly something we see in the news nearly every day. The government are now beginning to realise these offences require far tougher penalties than the ones already in force, and this is why as of the 1st March 2017 if you get caught using your mobile phone (even if you are stuck in traffic or are stationary) you will automatically incur 6 points on your licence and a £200 fine. If you cause death whilst using your mobile behind the wheel you can face a minimum of 14 years or up to life in prison.
For young and newly qualified drivers, they can face the risk of being disqualified from driving altogether if they accumulate 6 points within the first 2 years of passing their test. So it only takes one occasion of getting caught out using Facebook or Snapchat to abruptly end you driving career before it’s even started. Is it worth the risk? What’s more is it worth risking your life, and the life of your passengers? We don’t think so… bring on the new laws.