LONDON: More than 200 motorists a day were caught using their phones at the wheel in the first month after tough new penalties were introduced. Figures obtained by the Press Association through freedom of information requests show that 5,977 people were stopped by officers across the UK in the four weeks from 1 March. The actual figure is likely to be higher as seven police forces didn’t supply data.
The figures show that the Metropolitan Police area accounted for around a third of all incidents, with 2,037 drivers stopped. Thames Valley saw the second highest number, with 478 while Police Scotland reported 339 cases. The high number of incidents comes even though the punishment for such action was strengthened at the start of March.
Under the new rules, the penalty for using a phone at the wheel has doubled to a £200 fine and six penalty points. For new drivers the rules are even harsher. Anyone caught using their phone at the wheel in the first two years after passing their test will have their licence revoked and have to resit their test.
The tougher rules were introduced as a deterrent to reduce the number of casualties caused by drivers using their phone. In 2015, 22 people died and 99 were seriously injured in accidents involving a driver using their phone. Motoring groups said the increased penalties were “a start” but said the latest figures showed many drivers were still not getting the message over the dangers.