UK

Hundreds of new drivers banned for mobile phone use

Woman driving while on a mobile phone Image copyright PA

Hundreds of new drivers have been given automatic bans for using their mobile phones at the wheel, under tougher laws introduced this year.

In March, the punishment for driving while on the phone was doubled to six penalty points - enough to ban those with less than two years experience.

Figures obtained by Radio 5 live reveal 290 new UK drivers were disqualified in the first six months since the change.

RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said the figures were sad to see.

The new rules about phone use apply in England, Scotland and Wales.

Drivers who get six points within two years of passing their test automatically lose their licence.

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

'Throw it all away'

The RAC's Mr Williams said: "These people have spent hours and hours and hundreds of pounds learning to drive to gain their personal freedom only to throw it all away through this foolish behaviour.

"The only consolation is that they now won't be involved in some horrific crash caused by the distraction of a handheld mobile phone," he added.

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

However, the figures, released by the DVLA under the Freedom of Information Act suggest a total of 15,752 drivers received six penalty points for using a mobile phone between March and August.

This is an increase from 15,237 drivers in the same period in 2016.

Mother killed by lorry

Ben Carvin was 13 when his mother was killed when a lorry driver crashed into her car, while using a mobile phone,

Ben said he was forced to grow up 10 years overnight.

"I went from being pretty carefree to feeling I had to be a secondary parent to my sister."

After hearing Ben speak on 5 Live Daily, Jerry, a lorry driver from north London admitted using his phone "pretty regularly" and said he would now stop.

"I was always looking at my phone, if I get a call from my boss I will answer that call."

"I lost my own mother when I was 13."

He said after listening to Ben, he would now use his "do not disturb" app.

'Don't do it'

National Police Chiefs' Council lead for roads policing, Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, said the police took the offence seriously.

"This is not a minor offence and is never a risk worth taking because a moment's distraction behind the wheel can change lives forever.

"Our message is simple - don't do it," he added.

More on this story