Motorists face three penalty points for talking on a hand held phone now that the Government's Road Safety Act has been passed.
On-the-spot fixed penalty fines of £60 were introduced in December 2003, so it has taken nearly three years to introduce the threat of penalty points.
The Department for Transport estimated that just 1.5% of motorists use a handheld phone while at the wheel, but 24% of whatcar.com visitors admitted that chat on a mobile while driving.
Stiffer penalties for drivers that kill other road users are also introduced, with new offences of causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving and causing death while unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured.
Strangely, motorists face up to five years in jail for careless or inconsiderate driving, but only two if they're unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured.
New powers to tackle drink driving are also included. Repeat offenders could now have to retake their test, and could also have their cars fitted with an alcohol lock, which could help prevent them from re-offending.
The new Road Safety Act also includes a shake-up of the penalty points system for speeding, with fewer points proposed for less severe offences and greater use of speed awareness courses, although these measures won't be introduced immediately.
The DfT wants to consult on which speeds should attract lesser penalties, so it will be next year at the earliest before they're introduced.
A new offence of keeping a car without insurance is also introduced, so failure to renew insurance in time could land you a £100 fine. Local authorities can also now clamp uninsured cars and, in the most extreme cases, scrap cars.
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