Crime & Policing

Tougher mobile phone driving laws come into force this Friday

New mobile phone laws while driving will come into force from Friday March 25th 2022. The changes aim to fill up loopholes that dealt with mobile phone usage.

Recently, there were a number of changes to the Highway Code on the 29th of January 2022 that dealt with cars, vans, and pedestrians and brought forward the idea of the ‘Hierarchy of road users’. Now another new set of laws pertaining to mobile phone usage in vehicles is due to come into force on the 25th of March 2022.

These new laws deal with smaller loopholes in the current mobile phone laws. These are:

? Illuminating the screen
? Checking the time
? Checking notifications
? Unlocking the device
? Making, receiving or rejecting a telephone or internet-based call
? Sending, receiving or uploading oral or written content
? Sending , receiving or uploading a photo or video
? Utilising camera, video or sound recording
? Drafting any text
? Accessing any stored data such as documents, books, audio files, photos, videos, films, playlists, notes or messages
? Accessing an app
? Accessing the internet

The Department for Transport (DfT) has officially confirmed the rules will come into effect on Friday 25th March 2022, with the necessary legislation now making its way through Parliament.

The new rules essentially mean there is never any reason to be using your mobile phone while driving.

If you are using your phone as a sat nav, it must be secured to your car’s dashboard correctly and not sitting in your lap or on the passenger seat.

This would cause you to look away to check your progress and put other road users or pedestrians in danger.

The other new rules speak for themselves, as taking pictures or videos, scrolling through music playlists such as Spotify or playing games on your phone are simply dangerous distractions.

Why are they bringing these new rules out now?

The laws had not been correctly revised in order to encompass all of the current mobile phone usages that people do on a day to day basis. An example of this loophole being exploited happened back in 2019.

A driver was caught using his mobile phone video function to record an accident as he was driving past. He was taken to court for this, however, his lawyers were able to successfully argue that the law only banned the use of mobile phones when speaking or communicating behind the wheel. And that the laws did not encompass taking videos while driving.

The driver won his appeal and the case was dropped. In conjunction with cases like these, the new rules will cover virtually all aspects of drivers using their mobile phones while driving. 

What will happen if I get caught with the new rules?

Anyone caught using a hand-held device while driving could face up to six points on their driving licence, as well as a fixed penalty notice of £200.

British motoring association AA’s president, Edmund King has said: “This is a much-needed upgrade of the law to help make our roads safer. Mobile phones offer many distractions and this sends a clear message that picking them up to use them will not be tolerated”.

“The law will also become tougher as the use of smartwatches, tablets and laptops behind the wheel will apply. Drivers will be extremely limited on when they can pick up their phone, mainly to call the emergency services when there was no opportunity to safely pull over and to make contactless payments at drive-thrus”.

An image of a woman using her mobile phone to record while driving

Using a phone or a sat nav when driving

It’s illegal to hold a phone or sat nav while driving or riding a motorcycle. You must have hands-free access, such as:

  • a Bluetooth headset
  • voice command
  • a dashboard holder or mat
  • a windscreen mount
  • a built-in sat nav

The device must not block your view of the road and traffic ahead.

You must stay in full control of your vehicle at all times. The police can stop you if they think you’re not in control because you’re distracted and you can be prosecuted.

The law still applies to you if you’re:

  • stopped at traffic lights
  • queuing in traffic
  • supervising a learner driver

When you can use a hand-held phone

You can use a hand-held phone if either of these apply:

  • you’re safely parked
  • you need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop

Penalties

You can get 6 penalty points and a £200 fine if you use a hand-held phone when driving. You’ll also lose your licence if you passed your driving test in the last 2 years.

You can get 3 penalty points if you don’t have a full view of the road and traffic ahead or proper control of the vehicle.

You can also be taken to court where you can:

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