Re-education courses for mobile phone-using drivers to be scrapped

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A loophole which has allowed drivers to escape fines and points for using their mobile phones behind the wheel is to be fixed.

Previously motorists, particularly new or younger drivers, would be offered the option to take a re-education course, in place of a fine and penalty points.

However, these courses have been criticised as a 'soft touch' and an ineffective deterrent, and now government plans have announced their scrappage.

It is just one of several measures to be implemented from next year in an effort to stamp out mobile phone use behind the wheel.

In September, the government announced that it was going to increase fines and double penalty points. A consultation on dangerous driving offences is to be held by the end of 2016.

Prime Minister Theresa May, who is backing the effort, said that she wishes to make using a mobile phone while driving as socially unacceptable as drink driving.

Making the comments on a trip to India, she said that government would work with the public to raise awareness of the dangers, and that the punishment for drivers who cause death or injury while on their phone should "fit the crime", in order to deter other motorists.

She added: "Sadly, we have seen too many times the devastating and heart-breaking consequences of using a mobile phone while driving. A moment's distraction can wreck the lives of others forever.

"We are determined to make our roads safer by taking action against those who flout the law and put other people at risk."

Mobile phone use was a contributory factor in 440 traffic accidents in Britain last year, 22 of which were fatal. However, the number of fines issued for the offence has dropped by 84 per cent since 2011, a plummet blamed on a fall in the number of dedicated roads policing officers in the UK.