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Phone use penalty 'could double'

Wed, 16 Jul 2014

THE PENALTY for using a mobile phone while driving could be doubled under proposals being examined by the Government as part of a safety drive, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe has called for offenders to be handed six points on their licence rather than the present three, meaning a ban from getting behind the wheel if caught twice in three years.

Mr McLoughlin said it was an "interesting suggestion" that he was considering in an effort to end the "appalling" number of people killed and seriously injured in accidents where a phone was being used in the hand.

"The amounts of casualties there have been are absolutely appalling and the person who is using their phone doesn't realise the damage or the danger," he told journalists at a Westminster lunch.

"In 2011 driving while using a mobile phone was recorded as a contributory factor on some 23 fatalities and 74 serious injuries. We have got to change this and we have got to get that message across.

"Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe has called for six penalty points for the use of a mobile phone. It is an interesting suggestion.

"It is one that I would want to look at. There could be some difficulties about it but I think we have got to get the message across to people about safety.

"We have been very lucky in this country in seeing, year on year, the number of road deaths and casualties actually falling.

"But one death is one too many and we need to look at those and see where we are going."

The Scotland Yard chief spoke out in March after figures showed the first increase in deaths and injuries on the capital's roads for two decades.

It has been illegal since December 2003 to use a mobile phone held in the hand while driving.

By Joe Churcher, Press Association Chief Political Correspondent