How to keep your driving licence clean
This week the newspapers have been giving plenty of coverage to the fact that next year, it’s likely that the penalty for using a mobile phone while driving will be doubled.
Instead of notching up three points on your licence along with a £100 fine, you’ll instead get six points and your wallet will be £200 lighter. Many people have said the move is long overdue, even though surveys suggest that up to a fifth of us regularly use our mobile phone while driving.
Around the same time that the government disclosed mobile phone use penalties would be increasing, a lorry driver was jailed for six years, for causing a five-vehicle crash when he checked his text messages as he drove. In 2013, there were at least 22 fatalities on UK roads because of mobile phone use while driving.
The problem is that as a new generation of drivers takes to the road, for many, being constantly connected is a must. As those teenagers and twenty-somethings start driving, they’re too comfortable with using their mobiles at the wheel, confident they can multi-task – when they can’t.
Now, in a bid to nip things in the bud, the government has said that within the first half of 2017 it will act, by introducing harsher penalties for mobile phone use. The thing is, using a phone while driving is one of several ways that you can notch up points on your licence – so is it about time some of these other offences were subject to tougher penalties?
Running a red light
The number of traffic lights that festoon our roads is often infuriating, especially when they work 24/7 on junctions that are busy only occasionally. But obeying traffic lights is never optional and if you choose to go through one on red you can look forward to three points and a £100 fine.
Thanks to the vast number of cameras on our roads, you’re more likely to be caught speeding than committing any other endorsable offence. If you are caught you’ll get three points and a £100 fine; contest it when you’re in the wrong and you’ll get up to six points and possibly a £1000 fine. Speed really stupidly and you could be fined £2500 as well as getting an unlimited ban.
You’re not allowed to cross any continuous white line unless it’s an emergency, you have no option, or you’re overtaking something travelling at less than 10mph. Even if you overtake on a broken white line, if you do so when it’s unsafe you could be prosecuted for driving without due care and attention, which could land you with 3-9 points and a fine of up to £2500.
Failing to stop at a zebra crossing
This is the same offence as failing to stop at a red light if pedestrians are waiting to cross, which means you’ll get three points slapped on your licence plus a £100 fine – and that can escalate to £1000 if you do something really daft.
Your tyres are the only things keeping you in contact with the road, but it’s amazing how many people never check their condition. That’s a bad move because if your tyres are not fit for purpose you could be handed three points and a fine of up to £2500, for each defective tyre. So make sure they’re inflated correctly and not bald or damaged in any way.
Not in proper control
Modern cars feature so many energy-saving features such as adaptive cruise control, brake assist, automatic transmissions and so forth that they almost drive themselves. But autonomous cars aren’t here yet and until they are you’re not allowed to eat, shave, read or use your laptop as you whizz along. Yet many people do – and if you get caught in the act you can look forward to three points and a £100 fine. That’s if you don’t crash of course; do so and kill or injure someone and the penalties will be far greater.
Drink or drug driving
Drink alcohol or take drugs (prescription or illegal) to the point where your driving is affected, and you’ll automatically lose your licence if you’re caught. You’ll be banned for at least 12 months, possibly more depending on the severity of the crime, but if it’s your second offence within 10 years the ban will be for at least three years. You could also be jailed for up to six months and fined up to £5,000 – and if you can get insurance after all this, you’ll be doing well.
Failing to stop after accident
If you’re involved in a collision which causes personal injury to someone, you’re obliged to stop and give your details, then report the incident to the police. If you don’t you could be given 5-10 points plus a fine of up to £5,000, and you could be banned from driving.
Drive your car on a public road and it must be insured. If it isn’t you’ll be given 6-8 points and can be fined up to £5,000. A court could also ban you from driving indefinitely and you might have to take your driving test to get back on the road.
It’s easy to forget that your MoT has expired, but if you’re caught driving a car without an MoT the consequences could be far worse than you think. That’s because no MoT can mean no insurance (read your insurer’s terms and conditions), so the penalties are the same as for driving without insurance.
No driving licence
Get caught driving without a valid licence and you’ll get 3-6 points, you’ll be fined up to £1,000, and if you’re caught driving while disqualified you can be jailed for six months, fined £5,000 and banned indefinitely.
Keeping your licence clean isn’t hard though – just keep your car’s paperwork up to date, make sure it’s properly maintained and don’t drive like an idiot. It really is that simple.