Tackling drivers on the phone

BBC News asks, “Will stronger penalties for driving while using a mobile phone be enough of a deterrent?” This follows news that the government are introducing tougher penalties. Specifically, drivers can be fined up to £60 and have up to three penalty points put on their licensee. Previously the maximum penalty was just £30. (These are the penalties assuming the culprit chooses not to contest the charges in court. If they do, the fines are much stiffer.)

Personally I think the fine could be ratcheted up a bit more. Whether £60 or, say £250, it’s still a bit of a discount on the £1000 an offender would get if they wasted everyone’s time by contesting it in court. Nevertheless I’m not sure that stiffening the penalty is the most important aspect here.

The real problem with this offence is that it’s very difficult for the police to enforce. I see people all time talking away on their mobile phones whilst driving. I’m sure I’m not the only one. Many of us now have cameras (or camera phones) in our pockets when out and about and could record the necessary evidence (as pedestrians, of course!). I suggest that the police should offer an automatic reward (say £20) to everyone who sends in such photos (to include the license plate). That would improve enforcement somewhat. Increased fines could easily pay for the reward scheme.

4 Responses to “Tackling drivers on the phone”


  • “I suggest that the police should offer an automatic reward (say £20) to everyone who sends in such photos (to include the license plate). ”

    Photoshop anyone?

    Personally I think a bit of publicity – similar to those kill your speed / drink driving ads – would do good. Help remind people, get them realising how important it is. Raising the fines a bit is probably good in sending out a “this is to be taken seriously” message.

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  • Doctored images are always a potential issue in law enforcement. I’m sure the police have experience and expertise in identifying genuine images from forgeries.

    Nevertheless the usual caveats would have to apply to any such reward (i.e. conditional on a successful conviction). If it were proved that someone had attempted to pervert the course of justice by sending in fake photos then they would need to get a stiff penalty (to include a prison sentence) to deter others.

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  • Here’s a point: I have heard (!) that only film photographs are admissable in court. i’m not sure what the truth of this statement is, but it might be to do with the whole doctored thing. I think some sort of working hands free system that isn’t a fuss to use would help!

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  • I thought the newer speed cameras were already digital? The cameras that enforce the London congestion charge certainly are. I very much doubt that digitial images are automatically inadmissable in court. It’s not as if film images can’t be manipulated (even if the court is expected to examine the negatives directly!).

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