The law is changing – Warning to motorists who use their phone at the wheel

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

Drivers who choose to drive whilst using their mobile phone face tougher penalties under new laws being introduced on the 1st March 2017.

Any motorist caught using a handheld device while driving will receive six points on their driving licence and a £200 fine.

Chief Inspector Martyn Stone of South Wales Police said:

“Drivers who decide to use a mobile phone at the wheel are committing an offence. By using a device whilst you drive you increase the risk and probability of being involved in a serious or fatal collision.

“The current penalty for anyone caught using a mobile phone while driving is £100 fine and 3 penalty points. In more serious cases, police officers have powers to prosecute drivers for careless or dangerous driving. New penalties, that will be made available to police officers come the 1st March 2017, shows the importance government places on ensuring that the roads are safe for all road users.”

This announcement comes after the publication of the 2016 All-Wales Anti-Mobile Phone While Driving Campaign. Within South Wales a total of 199 motorists were caught. The campaign, which ran between Monday 7th November until Sunday 20th November, urged all road users to ‘keep their eyes on the road’ and not be distracted by answering their mobile phone, reading a text or going online.

Chair of Road Safety Wales Susan Storch said:

“Driving a vehicle requires us to multi-task so anything above and beyond that needs to wait until we are safely parked up or until our journey has finished.”

“Campaigns such as this demonstrate the resolve of all the Road Safety Wales partners in tackling this issue and we will continue to work together to drive home the message of not using your mobile phone behind the wheel. No call or text is that important.”

Drivers are reminded to keep their concentration on the road and not on their mobile devices, distractions can cause serious or fatal collision.

Notes to Editor

• From 1 March, the penalties will increase for those caught using a handheld phone while driving. Both the fine and penalty points will double: from £100 to £200 and from 3 to 6 points. This follows a government consultation that showed 94% of the public agreed that we need tougher penalties.
• According to findings published by the RACs Report on Motoring 2016 released in September 2016, declared that the number of drivers who own up to using a handheld mobile phone has increased from 8% in 2014 to 31%. Additionally, there has been a rise in drivers sending a text, email or posting on social media, with the figure increasing from 7% to 19%.

All-Wales Anti-Mobile Phone While Driving Campaign

• Across Wales a total of 392 motorists caught using their phone behind the wheel.
• Across the UK, 36 forces took part in the campaign in November stopping 10,012 vehicles and detecting nearly 8,000 mobile phone offences, the highest ever total for a week of enforcement on distraction driving.
• Within South Wales a total of 199 motorists were caught using their mobile phones whilst behind the wheel
o 88% of offences were committed within a car
o 11% of offences were committed within a light goods van
• During the campaign officers also detected over 150 other offences whilst carrying out checks – they included offences known to contribute to fatal and serious collisions, such as drink and drug driving, speed, not wearing a seat belt, carelessness, no insurance, drugs and construction and use offences.