Rob Jones, Associate Solicitor for our Serious & Catastrophic Injury team, discusses the nationwide campaign to encourage drivers not to use their mobile phones on the road.
Between 15th – 28th April 2019 the National Police Chiefs Council ran a national campaign to crackdown on drivers using mobile phones. The offence received a great deal more publicity when a certain former England football captain emerged from Bromley Magistrates Court only days later minus his driving licence.
Using a hand held mobile phone at the wheel (or on a motorcycle!) has been an offence since 2003. Penalties were doubled to 6 penalty points plus a £200 fine in 2017 to reflect the fact that this is more than a trivial offence. The Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to make mobile phone use at the wheel as socially unacceptable as drink driving .
Research conducted on behalf of road safety campaigning charity RoadPeace suggests that the number of people sanctioned is falling however the number of accidents involving fatalities and serious injury by drivers distracted my mobile phone use has increased. This would suggest that falling number of people sanctioned is more likely to be due to cuts in police resource rather than the hopes of Theresa May.
Here is a concise summary of the law
- It is illegal to hold a phone or Sat Nav while driving.
- In this context “driving “ includes waiting at a red traffic light and queuing in traffic
- “Driving” also includes supervising a learner driver
- The penalty is 6 points plus a £200 fine
- If the offender has held a licence for less than 2 years, their licence will be lost
- Likewise, if the offender already has 6 points on his licence, he will be banned from driving.
- Using a phone will be an aggravating factor if an accident is caused. It might lead to a prosecution for a “dangerous driving “ offence which carries the risk of imprisonment and a much larger fine.
Putting aside the penalty which you will suffer if caught, spare a thought for the real victims of this offence – 32 deaths were caused by driver using phones in 2016 with a further 33 in 2017. Many more will have only managed to escape with life-changing injuries.
If you are involved in an accident and believe that the third party was using a hand held phone. Note the time of the collision as quickly as you can and make sure that your observations are reported to the Police immediately.
Have you been in a road traffic collision where the driver using their mobile phone? Please get in touch with Rob Jones, our Associate Serious Injury Solicitor today.