In an effort to reduce the number of road traffic accidents in the UK, new penalties for motorists who use their phones while at the wheel will double.
As of 1 March 2017, penalty points for individuals using a mobile while driving will double to 6, while fines will rise to £200.
Under the new rules, drivers caught using their phones in the first two years of passing their test will have their licences revoked. If a new driver accrues 6 points on their licence within the first two years, their licence is revoked and they must retake both their practical and theory.
The new rules for England, Scotland and Wales come after 22 people were killed and 99 more were seriously injured in accidents where the driver was on their phone in 2015 (the latest year for which figures are available).
Police forces have also launched a week-long crackdown, with more patrols and an “increased focus” on stopping people using their phones while driving.
The government said it hoped this penalty system would act as a strong deterrent to what motoring organisations are now calling an “epidemic” on the roads.
The transport secretary, Chris Grayling, said:
“Our message is simple and clear: do not get distracted by your mobile phone while driving. It may seem innocent, but holding and using your phone at the wheel risks serious injury and even death to yourself and other road users.
“Doubling penalties will act as a strong deterrent to motorists tempted to pick up their phone while driving and will also mean repeat offenders could find themselves banned from our roads if they are caught twice.
“Everyone has a part to play in encouraging their family and friends not to use their phones while driving – it is as inexcusable as drink driving.”
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Source: Guardian; BBC News