3rd May 2017
From 1st March, legislation surrounding driving with a mobile phone has changed, imposing stricter penalties for those caught. As well as being illegal, using a mobile phone is highly dangerous as it takes the driver's attention away from where it should be – on the road!
Driving while using a hand-held mobile phone has been illegal since 2003, however, penalties for undertaking this activity increased as of March 1st. Motorists caught on a mobile phone will now face six penalty points on their driving licence and a fine of £200. Motorists can be taken to court over this offence where they can face being banned from driving and be given a maximum fine of £1,000. In addition, if you have been driving for less than two years you will lose your licence.
Whether you are talking on the phone, texting, taking a photograph or using social media the law remains the same. It also applies when you are waiting at traffic lights, queuing in traffic or supervising a learner driver.
Any activity which takes a driver’s concentration away from what’s happening on the road is highly dangerous. Driving takes a high level of care and attention so it is important that you are constantly concentrating on what is going on around you.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents estimate that drivers who use a mobile phone at the wheel, either hand-held or hands-free, are four times more likely to crash, injuring or killing themselves and other people*.
You can use a hand-held phone in your car if you are safely parked or if you are making an emergency 999 or 112 call and you cannot safely pull over and stop.
It is legal to use a hands-free device whilst driving such as a Bluetooth headset, a voice command or a dashboard holder. You can also use a hands-free device for satellite navigation as long as you are not holding the device. It is important to bear in mind, however, that you can still be prosecuted for using a hands-free device if police believe that you are distracted or are not in control of your vehicle.
Driving whilst using a hands-free device is an unsafe activity as your full attention will not be on the road. Unlike passengers in your vehicle, a person at the other end of the phone does not have access to your visual space and so they will not be able to respect what is ahead and know if they need to be quiet to enable you to concentrate.