Page last updated at 17:24 GMT, Wednesday, 30 April 2008 18:24 UK

Drivers react to phone penalties

The number of drivers caught using mobile phones at the wheel has increased by nearly a third, according to Ministry of Justice figures - 164,900 fixed penalty notices were issued in 2006.

The standard penalty is 60 plus three points on the driver's licence. Drivers have been telling the BBC News website what they think.

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PETER WEBB, HAMPSHIRE

I recently left hospital where my father was very ill. I left instructions to phone me if his situation got worse.

As I drove up the empty motorway home the phone rang so I picked it up. It wasn't the hospital so I told them I would phone them back. That was just enough for a police car to pull me over and give me three points and a 60 fine.

If I had been a boy racer going through a town centre on the phone for five minutes driving badly, OK, I can easily see where that is wrong. But taking a call from a hospital on an empty motorway? Where has common sense gone?

All this does is alienate the police. There have been several burgularies locally. If they spent more of their time on real crime people may feel more empathy for the efforts of the police.

As it is they seem to be enforcing minor issues to the letter of the law and more concerning issues seem to occur with alarming regularity and appear to be underfunded.

J BAKER, EASTBOURNE

My fiance was killed by someone who was using a mobile while driving.

Had that driver been prosecuted previously it may have made him think before doing it again - and my fiance may still be alive.

The penalty can't be harsh enough as far as I'm concerned.

MICHELLE VANROOYEN, BOGNOR REGIS

I was caught using my phone a few years ago and fined.

I was at a standstill in traffic. Well, crawling along anyway, and a man in an unmarked vehicle was watching me. It turned out to be the police.

I have to say I do agree with the fact that it is against the law, as I don't think people really concentrate on the road when chatting to friends, especially when driving fast, as it would slow down your reaction.

DAVID LEWIS, MILTON KEYNES

I was stopped in my cul-de-sac doing approx 5 mph, whilst on my mobile phone.

I don't think I was in anyway endangering myself or anyone else. But I accept entirely that I was at fault and was grateful for the chance to do a course instead of having three points.

It seems good too that when necessary more drivers are being charged with dangerous driving, as the difference between 5mph and 45 mph could be death.

Following my course, I for one will never use my phone in the car again.

NEIL HOOD, LONDON

This is crazy and shows how obsessed the government is with raising money by issuing fines (although they offload this responsibility to 'Safety Camera Partnerships' or councils so they can distance themselves from the practice and say they have clean hands) - and then they spin it to say it's for our safety!

How long will it be before 'conversing with passengers', 'listening to the radio' or 'looking in any direction not immediately ahead' will also incur fines?

PAUL FREEMAN-POWELL, LIVERPOOL

The penalties aren't nearly strict enough. Whilst people are operating such powerful machines with such a capability to kill, they should give them their full attention.

Anyone caught driving whilst on the phone should have their licence revoked and serve a ban before being made to sit a course and then resit their test.



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