The Department for Infrastructure, Nichola Mallon has announced that she intends to bring forward legislation to introduce higher penalty points and fines for using handheld mobile phones when driving.
Anouncing her intentions today, the minister said:
“As Minister for Infrastructure part of my responsibility is promoting and improving road safety. This is a responsibility I take very seriously.
“Many of the actions taken within my Department to improve road safety fall out of the current Road Safety Strategy. The current Strategy expires in December and work has begun within my Department that will help inform my decisions on the current strategy’s successor later in the year. In the meantime, I want to take any steps possible to support the continued reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads.“
In a report produced by DfI, it showed that approximately one out of eight driver admitted that they texted while driving, with almost one in twelve making call while driving. Continuing Ms Mallon said:
“Evidence shows that using mobile devices while driving is distracting. Distraction while driving is one of the main causes of road traffic collisions on our roads. Many of those collisions causing serious injury and some resulting in loss of life. Any collision caused by mobile phone usage when driving, is one too many. A phone call can wait – but road safety cannot. It’s not acceptable that penalties for such a serious offence only currently carry a fine of £60 and three penalty points.
“That’s why today I have written to the Committee for Infrastructure outlining alongside a number of legislative priorities, my intention to legislate for increased fines and penalties for drivers using their mobile phones. I am proposing that increases should be in line with Great Britain – which would mean a £200 fine and 6 penalty points. This would be a first step to signal to drivers that I will be taking a zero tolerance approach to dangerous driving.
“I am hopeful that the Committee will support my intentions and that we can work together to make our roads safer for all across the North.”