TRUCKERS FACE JOB LOSS IN ONE-CALL ROAD BAN CLAMPDOWN ON MOBILES
Truck drivers and novice drivers will be hardest hit by new penalties for using a hand-held mobile phone while driving - losing their licence and their livelihood at the first offence of texting, calling, or checking social media.
And there will be no ‘soft option’ remedial training courses offered instead of the new 6 points penalty and £200 fixed penalty notice (FPN) fine for first offenders, announced the Department for Transport.
The date of implementation has yet to be announced but the DfT said the legislation would be put before Parliament “as soon as possible” to double the existing penalties of £100 FPN and 3 points.
The higher risk of disqualification also hangs over anyone who already has penalty points on their licence, such as for speeding.
For many it could mean the loss of a job, while any ban is harshly treated by insurance companies both in terms of premiums and whether they will offer cover, and this will also influence employers.
The move follows nearly a year of public consultation which brought overwhelming support for penalties to be increased by far more than first proposed – with public demand for action accentuated by headline cases of fatal crashes involving drivers using their phones.
In one case a trucker killed a mother and three children in a stationary car on the A34 near Newbury in Berkshire this summer. He was jailed for ten years.
The DfT said evidence suggested that "mobile phone use while driving has a worse impact on driving ability than being above the drink driving limit” and steadily increased penalties had had no impact.
The Government rejected calls for truck drivers to be treated differently, saying: “Given the tragic consequences which can result from any driver using a mobile phone when driving it is important that all drivers understand the consequences of their actions.”
It added: “For vocational drivers, the increase in the FPN points will have a higher impact as Traffic Commissioners can already revoke their HGV/PSV licence entitlement once 6 points are reached.”
Novice drivers (those who passed their test in the last 2 years) have their licence revoked by DVLA once they reach 6 points (rather than the usual 12 points) under the New Drivers Act and so they will be put off the road at their first offence.
Adding to the financial penalties, to regain their licence they must reapply for a provisional licence and pass both further theory and practical driving tests.