New mobile phone laws enforced from today
New legislation coming into force today will see drivers caught texting, calling or using an app while driving face a £200 on-the-spot fine and six points on their licence, the Daily Telegraph reports.
The new laws double the previous punishments, which included a £100 fine and three penalty points. Motorists will also no longer be able to avoid receiving points by opting to participate in a retraining course.
This means that, from today, new drivers caught using a phone while driving will lose their licence. While experienced drivers face a ban if they receive 12 points in a three-year period, new drivers have a maximum limit of of six penalty points in the first two years after passing their test.
It is hoped that the tougher punishments will deter motorists from using their phone at the wheel, as figures suggest that, in 2015, 22 people were killed and 99 were seriously injured in accidents on UK roads where a driver using a mobile was a contributory factor.
What's more, research conducted by the RAC found that one in four motorists admitted using their phone to check texts, emails and social media while driving.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling believes the increased penalties will be a "stronger deterrent" and argues that "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."
Part of the problem is that people don't think they will be caught by police, and using the phone at the wheel has become seen as acceptable.
Research suggests that the proportion of people who think it is acceptable to take a short phone call while behind the wheel has doubled in the last two years.
The AA president, Edmund King, believes the problem is that too many motorists are "addicted to their phones".
To coincide with the new legislation, police forces across the country are carrying out a week-long crackdown, with extra patrols and an "increased focus" on catching motorists using mobiles at the wheel.
Do you think the new punishments will be a strong enough deterrent?