£90 fine for drivers caught texting at the wheel
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin has indicated that fines for drivers caught texting, Tweeting or using smart phones at the wheel could increase by 50 per cent.
Ministers plan to increase the fixed penalty for using a hand-held device at the wheel – whether to text or make calls - from £60 to £90.
The financial penalty may be on the rise but the number of points offenders will receive will remain at just three despite cries for the 150,000 or more drivers a year convicted of offences involving mobile phones to incur a six-point penalty.
Twitter addicts, obsessive texters and Facebook fanatics won't be the only ones penalised under the proposed law as careless motorists who cut up other drivers, tailgate, hog lanes and even eat at the wheel could face the £90 fine.
Mr McLoughlin said: "We want to send a clear message to dangerous drivers: If you continue to show complete disregard for the safety of other road users, we will catch you – and we will punish you."
More than a million motorists have been convicted of using a hand-held mobile phone behind the wheel since 2003 - when the act was officially outlawed - with a peak of 161,096 convictions in 2010.
But many campaigners are calling for even stricter rules as studies have proved that drivers who text or use mobile phones behind the wheel can be more distracted than those over the drink-drive limit.
Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, echoed the sentiment, saying: "With both texting and hand-held use of mobile phones at the wheel causing more impairment than being at the drink-drive limit or under the influence of cannabis, the police need to target the large number of motorists continuing to flout the law."