Woman driving while on a mobile phone

Almost two-thirds of drivers are unaware of the punishment for using mobile phones at the wheel, more than 12 months after the introduction of tougher laws, a poll has found.

The RAC found only 36% of the 2,000 UK motorists quizzed knew offenders face six penalty points and a £200 fine.

Some 41% believed more visible law enforcement is needed, and 22% advocated stronger penalties.

The punishment was doubled from three penalty points and £100 last year.

This made it enough to ban those with less than two years’ experience.

To get back behind the wheel, these offenders have to retake both the theory and practical parts of the driving test.

The new rules apply in England, Scotland and Wales.

When the new penalties were introduced, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said they would “act as a strong deterrent” to mobile phone users.

Department for Transport figures showed 780 people were injured in accidents in 2016 when a driver was distracted or impaired by their phone – up 10% on the previous year.

In the poll, 18% of drivers backed the blocking of mobile signals within cars.

RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said the law around hand-held phone use by drivers “could not be clearer”.

“Yet every year there are dozens of fatal crashes caused by motorists who have allowed themselves to be distracted by their phone,” he said.

“There remains a hard core of drivers who continue to ignore the law and all the risks associated with hand-held phone use.”

Figures obtained by BBC Radio 5 Live last year revealed that 290 new UK drivers were disqualified in the first six months since the change.

In Northern Ireland, motorists caught using a hand-held phone while driving face a £60 fine and three penalty points.

A public consultation on a government proposal to increase this penalty closed last month.


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