New road safety plan includes tougher penalties for mobile phone offences

The government has published a new road safety plan which includes proposals to increase penalties for drivers caught using a mobile phone, and allowing learner drivers on motorways.

Patrick McLoughlin (pic above), Transport Secretary, hopes that the plan will “build on Britain’s excellent road safety record“. All the specific proposals announced in the plan will be discussed in a series of consultations during 2016.

With regard to mobile phone offences, the vast majority of first time offenders will not incur a fixed penalty notice or penalty points but will instead be offered an educational course, at the discretion of the police.

For the majority of drivers and riders (cars, vans, motorbikes) the current three penalty points will be increased to four and the fine will increase from £100 to £150.

For drivers of larger vehicles such as HGVs, where the consequences of a collision can be much more severe, the penalty points will increase from the current three to six.

Other measures announced include £50m of funding to train the next generation of cyclists through the Bikeability scheme; and a £750,000 grant in 2015/16 for police forces in England and Wales to help them build drug-driving enforcement capability.

The road safety plan also includes the following:

• Consulting on options for a drug-drive rehabilitation scheme course and a high-risk offenders regime for drug-drivers.

• Consulting on legislative changes to improve urban cycle safety by ensuring that side guards and rear under-run devices are not removed from HGVs, but remain permanently fitted.

• Consulting on proposals to support safety for motorcyclists, who account for 19% of all road deaths, including better training and improved safety equipment.

• Consulting on ways to incentivise and reward the uptake of more pre-test practice, as first announced in the government’s motoring services strategy consultation on 13 November

• Undertaking a £2m research programme to identify the best possible interventions for learner and novice drivers.

• Providing a broader range of ‘real-world’ driving experiences for learner drivers, including deregulating to allow approved driving instructors with dual-controlled cars to offer lessons on motorways.

• Undertaking a road safety management capacity review to identify areas for improved joint working, local innovation and efficiency.

Patrick McLoughlin said: “Britain has some of the safest roads in the world but we are always looking to improve that record.

“Today we are delivering common sense proposals that balance tougher penalties for dangerous drivers with practical steps to help youngsters and other more vulnerable groups stay safe on our roads.”

22 December 2015

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