It often seems like we're becoming increasingly inseparable from our smartphones – but there are times when there's no excuse for not putting them down. One of those times is driving, and the government has announced new plans to tackle mobile phone use on the UK's roads.
If the plans are approved, drivers caught holding their phones behind the wheel will face larger fines, receive more points on their licence and, for repeat offenders, potentially be banned from the road.
The biggest change will be for HGV drivers, whose penalty points will rise from three to six, with the government explaining that this is because these vehicles have the potential to do the most damage in the event of a collision. For other drivers, the increase would be from three to four.
Fixed penalty fines, meanwhile, would climb from £100 to £150.
"Using a mobile phone at the wheel is reckless and costs lives – I want to see it become a social taboo like not wearing a seatbelt. The message is clear: keep your hands on the wheel, not your phone. If you keep taking calls while at the wheel, you could end up being banned from the road," stated transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin.
While these measures to increase road safety have largely been welcomed by the motoring community, there are some who think they don't go far enough, stating that increased fines aren't an adequate deterrent to prevent people using their phones.
Tim Shallcross of the Institute of Advanced Motorists said: "The Department for Transport's own research this year showed that when they doubled the penalty from £50 to £100 in 2013 it made no discernible difference whatsoever.
"What deters people from using mobile phones is the fear of being caught and, frankly, with fewer police on the roads that possibility is becoming less and less," he added.