Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird has backed government proposals to double the fine given to motorists who use a mobile phone at the wheel.
This would see those who talk, text and use the internet on the their hand-held devices while driving face a £200 on-the-spot fine instead of the £100 currently in place.
There are also plans to include technology such as the Apple Watch in the new legislation which aren’t currently covered due to them not being hand-held.
Commissioner Baird said: “I absolutely welcome these proposals to double the penalties for using a mobile phone at the wheel. I’ve made it no secret that I believe mobile phones should be switched off while a person is driving.
“A mobile phone can be a major distraction. Even an alert tone can lead to a momentary loss of focus when behind the wheel and could lead to devastating consequences.
“These potential consequences should be enough to deter motorists from using a mobile phone at the wheel. However, a significant increase to the on-the-spot fine will also go a long way to making drivers think twice before doing this.”
Commissioner Baird has previously urged the Government to get tougher on motorists who are caught for a second time using a mobile phone at the wheel by banning them from the roads.
She added: “Most drivers recognise the dangers of drink-driving and the consequences they face if caught. There needs to be equally as strong penalties in place for those caught using a phone while driving. This should be coupled with stronger sentencing available to the courts to again act as a major deterrent to anyone thinking of using a mobile phone at the wheel.”
The Northumbria Police campaign Operation Dragoon focusing on all aspects of road safety is continuing.