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Avoid a fine on your phone

Thursday, 8 May 2008

News that a car insurance company has decided to penalise drivers with points on their licence from a hand-held mobile phone offence is an excellent development, according to road safety experts at the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists).

It raises some interesting issues, too: does three points on your licence because you committed a hand-held mobile phone offence make you more dangerous as a risk than three points for a "routine" speeding offence?

The answer, according to Allianz, is definitely yes. They describe the hand-held phone offence as a "dangerous and needless act".

So now those who persist with this dangerous hand-held habit will suffer the triple whammy: a finepoints on their licence, and an increase in the insurance premium when they renew.

It is now more than a year since the tougher penalties for hand-held mobile phone use were introduced. The Department for Transport (DfT) has said 185,000 drivers were caught using hand held phones in 2007.

But the offence continues: according to Allianz, ten per cent of motorists admitted in a survey to using their mobile without a hands-free kit while they were behind the wheel.

The tougher penalty is now a doubled fine, from £30 to £60, with three penalty points.

There has never been a better time to invest in a Bluetooth hands-free kit, which are widely available at less than £30. Put bluntly, that's less than half the cost of the fine if you are caught.

By making sure that your Bluetooth hands-free kit is always in the car and charged you will be able to keep your phone on while driving, without running the risk of committing a hand-held offence. However, there is an important caveat here. Even when you have the hands-free habit, use it with care. Remember, even hands-free conversations are a major distraction, putting you and other road users at risk.

But with a Bluetooth on, you can make a point of telling callers that you are driving, and find somewhere legal, safe and convenient to pull over and continue your conversation.