Educational courses no longer offered to mobile phone offenders in Essex
As of November 9th, drivers detected committing the offence for the first time will automatically receive three penalty points on their driving licence and a £100 fine.
Essex Police has made the decision to stop offering driver awareness courses following a proposal by the Department for Transport to scrap them in an effort to change driver behaviour.
In 2014, Essex Police officers detected a total of 5094 offences of using a mobile phone behind the wheel. This figure increased to 5702 in 2015. So far this year, 4265 offences have been detected.
Until today those drivers were given the option of receiving a £100 fixed penalty fine and three points on their licence or attending a national educational course at a cost of £100.
Under the changes, they will no longer be offered the course and will automatically receive the fine and points.
In 2017, the punishment will be doubled to six penalty points and a £200 fine.
The changes follow a national consultation by the Department for Transport and the imprisonment of a lorry driver last week convicted of causing the deaths of a mother and three children in a crash on the A34 in Berkshire.
The driver was jailed for 10 years after footage showed him scrolling through music on his mobile phone as he ploughed into the family's stationary car in August 2016.
"Using any mobile phone when driving is dangerous. Mobile phones, hand held or otherwise, divert your attention away from the road and slow driver reaction times. Hazards on the roads can emerge very quickly and just a split-second lapse in concentration can result in a crash, serious injury or worse.
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