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Fines doubled for British drive-and-phone motorists



Almost 6,000 drivers were caught by British police using cell phones in March as penalties were doubled, figures published Monday revealed.

A change in the law on March 1 doubled the fine to 200 pounds (257 U.S. dollars), with six points added to a driving license.

Motorists holding a driving license for less than two years also have to retake their driving test if caught using their phones.

In the four weeks after March 1, police forces were catching an average 200 drivers every day phoning and driving. A third of those caught were in London.

The figures prompted the road safety charity Brake to call for even tougher penalties. Its spokesman Jack Kushner said Monday: "Driver distraction is a growing menace and it's worrying that drivers don't seem to be getting the message."

Edmund King, president of the motoring organization, the AA, said: "We know we can't change the attitudes and actions of all drivers overnight. We now have stricter penalties so need to continue with education campaigns plus more police enforcement."

The higher penalties follow a number of tragic cases which left people dead or injured in accidents caused by people being distracted while driving because of using mobile devices, usually making phone calls or texting.

Motorists are allowed to make phone calls if they are using hands-free devices, and are not otherwise distracted.

Xinhua / PNA