Almost 40 per cent of motorists don't know about changing phone penalties

Updated: 
Phone while driving

Almost 40 per cent of drivers don't know that fines for using a mobile phone while driving will double on March 1, according to research from Co-op Insurance.

At present, drivers caught talking on a handheld phone while behind the wheel will get three penalty points and a £100 fine, but from Wednesday this will increase to six penalty points and a £200 fine.

The Co-op reported that just 39 per cent were aware of this change in legislation.

The same survey, which quizzed 1,500 British motorists, found that 30 per cent of drivers still admit to using their phone while driving, with 10 per cent of those saying they used the devices to check or update social media.

According to the Co-op, more than half of those questioned (54 per cent) thought the new rules would not affect drivers' behaviour, with 27 per cent of them believing the fine should be £1,000.

James Hillon, head of products at Co-op Insurance, said: "While it can be tempting to take that call or check that text, using a mobile phone while driving is dangerous and can seriously impact on a motorist's ability to drive safely, which is why it is illegal.

"Despite this, a third of drivers have admitted that they use their phones behind the wheel. While it seems the increase in penalty may encourage better behaviour, much of the driving population believe that the increase could have gone further.

"We welcome the penalty change, but only time will tell what the impact of this penalty increase will be."