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Stanley Says - Penalties, Phones & Driving

Earlier this week the UK government announced plans to introduce tougher penalties for drivers that are caught using their mobile phones whilst driving.

The tougher punishments which are expected to be introduced throughout early 2017 will see motorists receive six points on their licence and a £200 fine if they are caught using their phones when driving and even stricter sanctions for repeat offenders.

Although these new plans are currently expected to be implemented only in England, Scotland and Wales, drivers in Northern Ireland should still take note of the severity of using their mobile phone when behind the wheel and exercise much safer, cautious motoring on the road.

Everyone knows there’s a temptation to send a quick text if you’re running late or to check your phone when you’re stuck in a traffic jam but if you’re caught on your phone in NI regardless of whether you’re stopped at a red light or in a queue of traffic, you’ll receive an automatic fixed penalty notice which includes three points and a £60 fine and again further consequences for recurring lawbreakers.

The news of tougher punishments comes shortly after the RAC’s annual Report on Motoring which surveyed 1,714 UK drivers and found that handheld phones were “the biggest road safety concern among motorists today”.

The breakdown organisation also found that 31% of drivers admitted to using their mobile phone when driving compared to just 8% in 2014. This surge in phone usage behind the wheel is perhaps due to the rising capabilities of smartphones and the growing popularity of social media and photo/video messaging apps - with such technology at our fingertips it’s to be expected that this will add distractions when out on the road.

Receiving points and fines are little punishment compared to the real dangers that could occur whilst being distracted on your phone and the NI Road Safety Partnership and other road safety organisations do a fantastic job of bringing attention to dangerous driving through particularly hard-hitting adverts.   

Ultimately, there isn’t really a full-proof safe way to drive with your phone other than by stopping in a safe place when you need to use it.  Car accessories such as Bluetooth connectivity and hands-free kits do of course allow you to keep your hands in control and your eyes on the road but can still affect concentration - driving safely is of the upmost importance and is very strongly advised here at SERE.

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