Drivers risk severe penalties for phone use behind the wheel

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Being caught using a phone while driving can cost someone thousands of pounds, new research has found.

While rules are set to change, and penalties become steeper from next year, at present drivers caught using their phone at the wheel are slapped with a CU80 conviction. The immediate consequences of this penalty include three points on your licence and an £100 fine.

However, from an insurer's perspective, the CU80 is one of the worst motoring convictions to hold and can raise a driver's cover for the four years that it remains on their licence.

The GoCompare study, carried out at the request of Mirror Money, found that for an 18-year-old Londoner, a CU80 adds £1,855.86 to their annual premium. Times by four, and added to the £100 fine – which will now appear somewhat minimal – the cost of checking their phone just once can reach £7,523.44.

Even a 40-year-old can expect to see an average rise of £208.86 a year if they hold a CU80.

"Most insurers tend to rate quite heavily against CU80 convictions. This is because most will see using a phone behind the wheel as a conscious choice by the driver, rather than something that may have occurred by accident," a spokesperson for GoCompare told Mirror Money.

"Additionally, some insurers may take the view that people who use their phone behind the wheel are likely to do so regularly, making them a greater risk of having an accident in the future."

Despite this high cost, an RAC report found that an estimated 11million motorists had made or received a call while driving in the past 12 months.

In an effort to tackle this dangerous habit, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling recently announced his plans to double penalty points for phone-related driving convictions.

"It may seem harmless replying to a text, answering a call or using an app, but the truth is your actions could kill and cause untold misery," he said.

"We all have our part to play in ensuring our family and friends do not use their phones while driving. I will be announcing a tougher new penalty regime shortly."