It is already illegal to use a mobile phone to text or make a phone call while driving unless in an emergency. However, regulations are set to be further tightened next year to prohibit drivers from taking photos or videos, scrolling through playlists, or playing games. That means anyone caught driving while using a handheld device will receive a £200 fixed penalty notice and six points on their licence.
According to a study conducted by Ipsos MORI, young drivers are more likely to have used a portable device while driving. According to the RAC, more than one in ten younger drivers admit to snapping a photo or video while driving, and 6 per cent say they have played a game while driving.
Increase in accidents
Under the new legislation, drivers will still be allowed to use devices hands-free while driving if they are placed in a cradle. However, they can still be charged with an offence if authorities discover they are not in control of their vehicle. After a public survey, 81 per cent of respondents agreed that the new ideas should be reinforced. Grant Shapps, the Secretary of Transportation stated,
Too many deaths and injuries occur whilst mobile phones are being held.
By making it easier to prosecute people illegally using their phone at the wheel, we are ensuring the law is brought into the 21st century while further protecting all road users.
Further, to explain the new measures the government will also revise the Highway Code.
The law will also make it clear that being stationary in traffic counts as driving. Meaning, using a handheld cell phone at traffic lights or in traffic jams will be prohibited except in very limited circumstances. To guarantee that the legislation keeps up with technology, drivers who make a contactless payment using their mobile phone while stationary will be exempt from the new rule.
Although, this exception will apply only when payment is made with a card reader and will cover places like a drive-through restaurant or a road toll. It will not be possible for drivers to make general online payments while on the road. According to Mary Williams OBE, CEO of the road safety organisation Brake,
Driver distraction can be deadly and using a handheld phone at the wheel is never worth the risk. This important road safety decision by government, coinciding with Road Safety Week, is very welcomed.
This news is particularly welcomed by families suffering bereavement and catastrophic injury due to drivers being distracted by phones.