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Drivers braced for harsher phone penalties

New punishments due in 2017 will deter 91% of motorists from using mobile phones whilst driving, new research has revealed.

An update to the law regarding mobile phone usage whilst driving could see the number of offenders drop dramatically, according to the study by leading vehicle leasing company, Leasing Options.

In 2014, Government figures revealed that more than 500,000 motorists were still using their mobile phones while driving each day.

The Leasing Options research indicates that more than half (51%) of drivers admit they have used their mobile phone whilst driving.

UK law states that it’s illegal to use a hand-held phone or similar device while driving and the rules are the same if you’re stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic.

The current punishment is a potential three penalty points on your licence and a fine of £100. However, after the update – due in the first half of 2017 – there will be an on-the-spot fine of £200, plus six points automatically.

More than three-quarters (76%) of the drivers surveyed revealed they were aware of the proposed changes and a huge 91% said the increase in punishment would deter them from using their mobile phone whilst driving in the future.

However, it’s not just the harsher penalty that will put drivers off taking the risk – 77% admitted that the removal of a remedial course as an alternative punishment (to receiving points on your licence and a fine) would also be a big factor in deterring them.

“There has been a lot of discussion recently as to whether the increase in punishment would actually stop people using their phones whilst driving,” said Mike Thompson of Leasing Options.

“We are pleased to see that our research shows it may well see the number of drivers receiving points on their license for this offence decrease.

“It’s important that we recognise mobile phones in vehicles as distractions and do all we can to remove this completely. The risks involved in picking up the phone for the driver, as well as other drivers on the road, is far too great.”

Visit Leasing Options to find out more about the changes to the law.

About Gareth Herincx

Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who's worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

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