If any of up to five million UK motorists on six or more points are caught speeding while on a hand-held mobile phone, they will now get a further six points - and lose their licence.
A recent survey for phone supplier The Carphone Warehouse found 43 per cent of men and 26 per cent of women regularly drive using a hand-held mobile. Under the new Road Safety Act, which has been given Royal Assent, that will now mean three points and a doubling of the current fine to £60.
With uproar over recent cases of soft sentences for drivers involved in fatal smashes, the Act also brings in jail terms of up to five years for the new offence of causing death by careless driving, and two years for causing death by driving while unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured. And there's no escape either for foreign drivers who currently avoid prosecution in the UK. In future, offenders could have their cars immobilised.
"Nine people a day die needlessly on our roads. That is why we are determined to stamp out bad and irresponsible driving," said Transport Minister Stephen Ladyman. "The new Act stops motorists who kill walking away from court with only a fine, and clamps down on those who keep untaxed, uninsured or unroadworthy vehicles." In other measures, persistent speeders will have to undergo retraining. Fines for careless and inconsiderate driving will be doubled to £5,000, and police will be able to seize and destroy uninsured cars.
Meanwhile, repeat drink-drive offenders will be ordered to retake their test - and fit special 'alco-locks' to the ignition of their motors, preventing it being started if they have been drinking.
Road Safety Act main points
• Death by careless or inconsiderate driving - Five-year prison sentence.
• Death by driving while unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured - Two-year prison sentence.
• Careless and inconsiderate driving - Doubled from £2,500 to £5,000.
• Using a hand-held mobile phone while driving - Three points, £60 fine.
• Speeding - Range of penalty points extended. Retraining for speeders.
• Repeat drink-drive offenders - Retake test.