U.K. to get tougher on chatty drivers

Next month, motorists who are caught on handheld cell phones will face heftier fines and dings on their driver's licenses.

Will Sturgeon Special to CNET News.com
British drivers who insist on babbling away on handheld cell phones are facing a further crackdown as the government attempts to rid the U.K.'s roads of the dangerous practice.

Starting February 27, motorists will face the threat of getting three points on their license as well a fine of about $118 (60 pounds).

"Research shows that talking on a mobile phone while driving affects your concentration and ability to react to dangerous situations," said Douglas Alexander, the U.K. Transport secretary. "It's quite simple. It's impossible to do two things at once and do them well."

A U.K. law outlawing driving while using a handheld mobile phone took effect in December 2003, resulting in the issuing of 74,000 tickets during the first full year, but many drivers are still flouting the rules.

"Worryingly, while 92 percent of people agree with the law, 21 percent of drivers admit to breaking it," Alexander added.

On Monday, the government also launched a new awareness campaign to drive home the message to motorists.

Will Sturgeon of Silicon.com reported from London.