FROM today motorists caught using a phone while driving will face fines up to £200 and six penalty points added to their driving licence.
The government said that it hoped these measures would act as a strong deterrent to the current epidemic on the country’s roads.
The Government’s Secretary of State for Transport 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.”
Gloucestershire Police will be increasing its patrols and cracking down on mobile phone use in the coming weeks.
Gloucestershire’s Chief Constable Suzette Davenport, who is also the head of roads policing on the National Police Chiefs’ Council, 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.
“I have been talking to the Government about this for the past three years and I welcome the new measures that have been taken.
“When I get into a car I always make sure my phone is nowhere where I can reach it. My plea to everybody is to get into the habit of making sure their phone is out of temptation’s way as when it comes to enforcement, its already too late.
“I would like to see that people take up the social responsibility cause and embarrass and cajole other people who insist on using their phone while on the move.”
Chief Constable Davenport pointed out that even holding a mobile phone, adjusting a satellite navigation system or using a tablet computer while driving could constitute an office under separate legislation.
She concluded: “Since the legislation came in today, it is the first time in many years that I have not spotted anybody using their phone whilst driving. The message seems to be getting through.”