Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe calls for tougher action on drivers who use their mobile phone at the wheel

UK's top police officer worried by London's first road-deaths increase in 20 years

Britain's most senior police officer has backed higher penalties for drivers who use their mobile phone at the wheel.

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, said the only way to curb the still high numbers of people phoning whilst driving is to take a tougher line.

He said the penalty- which currently stands at three points on a license- should be hiked to six. That would mean motorists would be banned from driving if caught twice in three years, and inexperienced drivers would have to retake their test if caught once within two years of getting their licence.

The commissioner spoke out after figures revealed road deaths and casualties in the capital have increased for the first time in 20 years.

He said: "I have to say I have still got an issue around mobile phone usage myself. I think it is still very high when people are driving. If I was able tomorrow, I would say you get six points for driving while using a phone.

"The problem at the moment is we are dishing out lots of tickets- somebody gets three points and they have got another three chances.

"I would say you have got two chances. You have had a mobile phone infraction and if you do it again you lose your licence."

Edmund King, of the AA, appeared to back the call, saying using a mobile behind the wheel does not have the "social stigma" of driving drunk or without a seat belt. He said: "There is a case for having a stronger deterrent like six penalty points.

"This would have a particular impact on young people who would lose their licences immediately. If the penalty was increased there must be a concerted police campaign to show people there is a strong likelihood they will get caught."

But Kevin Clinton, of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said there should be "more consistent enforcement" of the existing law. He said: "If drivers know there is a good chance of getting caught if they use their phone while driving, they are less likely to risk doing so.

"Increasing the points for this offence would be inconsistent with other motoring offences, but it is very likely that the fine for a range of fixed penalty motoring offences will be increased, from £60 to £90."

Motorists can use a hands-free kit as long as they do not hold the phone. But studies have found that even speaking on a hands-free kit impairs driving ability. Some scientists argue the increased demands on the brain involved in holding a conversation on a phone – whether hand-held or hands-free – is the real danger while driving, not handling of the device.

The Government said it would increase the financial penalty for using a mobile phone behind the wheel from £60 to either £80 or £100 last year but has yet to do so.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
The teaser trailer has provoked more questions than answers
filmBut what is Bond's 'secret' that Moneypenny is talking about?
News
Johnny Depp is perhaps best known for his role as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean
peopleBut how did he break it?
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Walker and Vin Diesel in Fast and Furious 5
film
Sport
Lewis Hamilton secured his second straight pole of the season
f1Vettel beats Rosberg into third after thunderstorm delays qualifying
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss