A ROAD safety charity has backed plans to hand out six penalty points to drivers caught using their mobile phones behind the wheel.

The move, proposed by the government this week, would see new drivers banned after just one offence, and more experienced drivers taken off the road after two.

In April, the Lancashire Telegraph reported how the number of motorists in East Lancashire fined for using their mobile phone behind the wheel had plummeted, according to new figures.

Police in the Eastern and Pennine divisions, which cover the area between them, handed out fixed penalty notices to just 1,145 motorists last year. That’s almost half the 2,185 who were caught using their phone illegally in 2010/11, figures released under the Freedom of Information Act showed.

Deputy chief executive from Brake, Julie Townsend, said: “This is a welcome proposal, and we hope the government will implement it.

“An increase in penalty points is a step in the right direction, but it could provide a more effective deterrent if combined with a increase in the fixed penalty fine to £500 to £1,000, as well as heightened traffic enforcement, so risky law-breaking drivers know they will not get away with it.”

A recent survey by Brake and Direct Line showed almost half of drivers admit using a mobile while driving.