While it has been illegal to use a hand-held phone while driving or riding a motorcycle for a while, from today, 1 March, the fixed penalties for being caught have increased and you will now be liable to get six points on your licence and a fine of £200. This applies also when queuing in traffic or stopped at a red light. If that isn’t deterrent enough, a third of insurance firms will not insure motorists who are caught, according to research from the AA.
This means that cover may be refused completely if you have been caught, or even stopped mid-policy. The insurance companies surveyed also advised potential premium increase of 20-29% for a mobile phone offence, if they do offer to provide cover.
“If an officer witnesses a clear lack of attention or dangerous behaviour while using a phone, the offence is likely to be increased to careless or dangerous driving,” said Michael Lloyd, the AA’s director of insurance. “Only two of the insurers researched would offer cover for someone with a dangerous driving offence to their name, typically increasing their premium by 58%.
“So, if you were caught using your hand-held device and inadvertently ran a red light with a resultant near miss, a dangerous driving offence would almost certainly be the result.”
Duncan Sutcliffe, director, Sutcliffe & Co, added: "Drivers should avoid the temptation to use their phones as the evidence clearly shows the chances of a crash are significantly increased - insurance companies are therefore unwilling to support drivers who ignore the risks. If you are a business owner you also have a legal responsibility to enforce safe driving practices amongst your employees."