"Harshest" sanctions urged for drivers using mobile phones

€100 fine still not enough of a deterrent

Motorists using mobile phones while driving should face tougher sanctions, says Malta Insurance Association head Adrian Galea, insisting that enforcement be steeped up.

“A strong deterrent is needed to curb the increased use of mobile phones while driving,” Mr Galea, the association’s director general, said.

He was commenting in the wake of similar concerns raised by Local Enforcement System Agency (LESA) head Ray Zammit, a former acting police commissioner, who said that in spite of the fine for mobile use while driving increasing to €100 last year, it was still not high enough.

For Mr Galea “it is very evident there is rampant abuse by most drivers”.

Therefore, he added, enforcement of existing rules had to be stepped up for any regulations to be regarded as effective.

It is very evident there is rampant abuse... the police need to apply the harshest of penalties

He also called for higher fines for those caught using a mobile device while transporting passengers, such as schoolchildren.

“Driving distractions – which include eating, drinking and smoking – significantly impair our ability to drive well and could be the cause of very serious accidents, injuries and possibly fatalities.

“Our policing authorities need to enforce this rule by applying the harshest of penalties to deter such abuse,” Mr Galea continued.

In a Talking Point appearing in today’s newspaper, Mr Galea calls for speedy action “to stop road fatalities from becoming simply a statistic” and lists the Ten Commandments of Safe Driving.

The insurance association has long called for stricter rules on the road, for years insisting that the point system currently in place to penalise reckless drivers in their first three years of driving should be extended beyond that period.

The government announced in October that the penalty point system would be extended to all drivers.

The government also announced harsher fines for mobile phone use while driving.

According to the LESA’s Mr Zammit, the modified penalty point system should start being implemented soon.

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