Mobile phone and driving

Mobile Phones and Driving

We all know we shouldn't be using a phone whilst driving, and with harsher penalties now in place for those that are caught, it's worth knowing the rules.

Since December 2003 it's been illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving or stopped in traffic. Despite this, the RAC reported in 2016 that a record number of people are doing exactly that. Not only are they risking a fine and points on their license, they're also endangering themselves and others. We want everyone to stay safe on the roads; motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, which is why we've written this guide to staying safe and staying on the right side of the law.

The law

It's illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving, even if you're waiting in a queue or are stopped at traffic lights. The offence doesn't just cover taking calls, either; it includes typing or reading a text, and even checking social media.

It also includes using your phone as a sat nav unless it's secured in a holder and you don't touch the screen or the phone whilst your engine's running. As above, this still applies even if you're sat in a queue. You'll also need to make sure that the holder isn't obstructing your view, so we recommend attaching your phone to the air vents instead of the windscreen. To stay on the safe side, it's wise to invest in a sat nav and use that for navigation instead of your phone.

You can only use your phone if you're safely parked or need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it's unsafe or impractical to stop.

The penalties

On 1st March 2017 the penalties for using your mobile phone whilst driving increased to six points on your licence alongside a fine of £200. Two offences will result in a court visit, a fine of £1,000 and a six-month driving ban.

New drivers will have their driving licence revoked and will need to re-take both their theory and practical tests.

These new penalties will apply in England, Scotland and Wales, and the police are increasing their activity in order to clamp down on these offences. The AA is reporting that some police forces are using cameras in unmarked lorries to catch those flouting the law.

Going hands-free

If you're worried about missing important phone calls, your best bet is to invest in a hands-free system. There are a number of devices that let you pick up your calls and texts such as Bluetooth car kits, DAB radios and sat navs.

However, you still need to be vigilant whilst using a hands-free system. You can still be pulled over if the police think you're distracted, so keep hands-free calls short and call the person back once you're safely parked.