Motorists have been warned that harsher penalties have come into force if they’re caught using a mobile phone behind the wheel.
The new rules took effect on March 1 and penalties have been doubled in a bid to crack down on accidents and improve road safety.
Dave Williams, from Henshalls Insurance Brokers in Newport and Shrewsbury (pictured), said under the new laws, offenders would receive six penalty points rather than three, and a £200 fine instead of the previous £100 penalty.
“In addition to the penalty points and fines, any novice motorist who has had their licence for less than two years will be banned – even if they’re caught using their phone just once.
“They’ll then have to apply and pay for a new provisional licence and pass both the theory and practical parts of their test all over again. Their future insurance cover could also be affected and their premiums could be more expensive as a result of their actions.
“It’s important too that motorists understand the rules apply even if they are sitting in stationary traffic.”
Mr Williams said under the law, the use of a hand-held mobile phone behind the wheel will be punished whether the driver is making a call, using it on loudspeaker, texting, filming, taking a photo or using the internet.
“The only exception will be during an emergency when drivers are permitted to use a phone to call 999 or 112 if it is unsafe or impractical to stop.
“The whole point of the new rules is to urge drivers to think twice before using their phone at all while they’re behind the wheel.
“And even though using a hands-free kit is legal, motorists would be wise not to attempt this while driving as the police and authorities will clearly be taking a hard-line approach once the rules are introduced so it’s just not worth the risk.
“We all know how difficult it is to ignore our mobile phone, but that split second when your attention is diverted could be all it takes to put someone’s life at risk.”
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