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.
Are beards attractive? Ryan Gosling says yes, but science says no. Take the A-list facial hair challenge and find out who's right
South Korea ferry: Four dead and almost 300 missing as mass rescue gets underway
Oscar Pistorius trial: Reeva Steenkamp told athlete she 'loved him' for first time in Valentine's Day card
Oscar Pistorius trial: Reeva Steenkamp standing with 'hand on the door handle' when she was shot dead
Lunar eclipse 2014: Images of the spectacular 'blood moon'
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage on Have I Got News For You: Ukip leader ridiculed over expenses and party 'fruitcakes'
Refugee facing deportation from Sweden saved by fellow passengers refusing to let plane leave
- 1 Poveglia: 'World's most haunted island' up for auction...is anyone brave enough to buy it?
- 2 Refugee facing deportation from Sweden saved by fellow passengers refusing to let plane leave
- 3 Naked yoga: the bare truth - it's already big in the US, and has now landed here
- 4 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews
- 5 Scientists warn we've hit 'peak beard': The more people grow facial hair, the less attractive it is
£26K-30k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...
£25K-28k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...
£50000 - £65000 Per Annum potentially flexible for the right candidate: Clearw...
£38000 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Do you have experience of ...