New phone fine does not go far enough
In my madder moments I have an invention that sees car drivers able to raise a warning against another driver. If that driver gets three warning lights on one journey... his vehicle automatically pulls into the next available service station and he has to watch a tutorial and answer relevant questions before being allowed to set off again. And penalty points are automatically added to his licence and a sizeable fine taken from his bank – ideally instantly by direct debit.
This might seem a tad extreme, but sometimes terrible driving kills people and should not be taken lightly. Of course there are more accepted punishments currently used and it’s great to see that one of the road’s greatest perils is attracting a tougher penalty from next year. Using a mobile phone while driving sees the current fine of £100 doubled and will also carry six penalty points – it’s currently three.
This should prove a deterrent and also targets the ‘danger’ age group as new drivers have to retake their test if they acquire six points during the first two years after passing their driving test. So it goes some way to make this most dangerous of pastimes less attractive. But it still doesn’t go far enough. Because using a phone is more socially acceptable than drinking in excess, it is treated differently and yet it can ruin as many lives if used irresponsibly. Until a driver using a phone is viewed in the same way a drink driver is, or a driving-while-disqualified driver is, it’s not going to be seen as a big deal. Until those using a mobile phone while driving are banned and heavily fined, it’s just not enough to really make drivers turn their phones off at the start of a journey. They need to properly contemplate the consequences of keeping a phone in range. So, while the latest legislation may be a step in the right direction, it’s not something that will radically ostracise those who choose to flout the law. And until we do that, this crime will be seen on a par with exceeding the speed limit… and we all know it’s much worse than that.