Firefighters are warning new drivers to take note of changes to the consequences of using a mobile phone while driving. From today, 1st March 2017, motorists caught using mobile phones while driving will receive a £200 fine and six penalty points on their licence.
Receiving six points on a licence that has been held for less than two years will result in it being immediately revoked.
The increase in penalties, which have doubled from the original consequences of £100 and three points, is the result of a government consultation with the public which demonstrated the social unacceptability and widespread intolerance of using a mobile phone while behind the wheel. It has been illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving (unless calling 999 in an emergency) since 2003.
As a member of Sussex Safer Roads Partnership, West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service is supporting the county-wide campaign, It Can Wait, to stress the importance of focussing on driving without answering, checking or using a mobile phone.
Intervention & Prevention Deputy Manager, Adrian Carter, said: “Firefighters regularly see the terrifying consequences of road traffic collisions and as a service we fully support these tougher penalties on all drivers caught using a phone. We are warning new drivers to take heed of these changes especially, as picking up a phone for even a moment could result in an immediate loss of their newly gained licence.
“We are calling on members of the public to support this campaign. Get involved by sharing our social media posts, encouraging friends and family to put their phones away, turn them off or onto silent when driving. It only takes a moment of distraction to cause a serious collision.”
To coincide with the change in penalties the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) is leading a national week of enforcement to crack down on distracted driving. Sussex Police will be deploying officers for a highly-visible operation which will target motorists who continue to put themselves and other road users at risk. Report other drivers using their mobiles to Operation Crackdown at www.operationcrackdown.org.
SSRP is a partnership made up of Sussex Police, East and West Sussex Fire & Rescue Services, East and West Sussex County Councils, Brighton & Hove City Council and Highways England.