Fines to rise for texting at the wheel

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Sending a text message or making a phone call while at the wheel will land drivers with harsher penalties, the Transport Minister warned.

In a move to crack down on dangerous driving, Patrick McLoughlin indicated that fines for a variety of offences would rise by 50 per cent, from £60 to £90. The number of penalty points offenders receive on their licence will remain at three.

The cost increase will cover fixed penalty notices for the offence of using a hand-held device while driving, the Daily Mail said, and also for speeding and going through a red light.

A new penalty of three penalty points and a £90 fine will also be introduced for a number of careless driving offences, including cutting up other drivers, eating a sandwich or lighting a cigarette at the wheel, driving at an inappropriate speed and needlessly hogging the middle lane on a motorway. New drug-driving laws will also be introduced, and the current drink-drive limit will not be lowered.

Mr McLoughlin, who admitted at a road safety conference in London that he had used a mobile phone to make calls while driving, but would not do so now, said: “We want to send a clear message to dangerous drivers: If you continue to show complete disregard for the safety of other road users, we will catch you – and we will punish you.”

More than a million drivers have been convicted of using a hand-held mobile phone behind the wheel since 2003.