Motorists caught talking or text messaging in Britain face hefty fines and jail time under guidelines due to be published today. In the most serious cases drivers caught using a cell phone can be charged with dangerous driving which carries a maximum punishment of two years in prison and an unlimited fine to be determined by a court. Using a hand-held mobile phone while driving was banned in 2003 but thousands of drivers violate the law every day.
Currently, drivers face an automatic fine and three points against their license if caught driving and using a handset. Department of Transport statistics show that drivers are four times more likely to crash if they are holding a mobile phone to talk or text message while at the wheel.
Director of Public Prosecutions Ken Macdonald said earlier this year that drivers who flout the law and drive dangerously should face tougher penalties.
“There is widespread public concern about the use of mobile phones and other hand-held electronic equipment while driving,” he said.
One reason why people ignore the law is because police are lax in enforcing the law. Sheila Granger, campaigns manager at the RAC, told the BBC: “We’d like to see police on the streets taking action. The best deterrent is for a motorist to be either pulled over themselves or know someone else who has been stopped.”
Hands-free phones aren’t covered by the law but a driver can still be charged if the police think a driver isn’t in control of the automobile.