Jack Dreyer | Friday 13th May 2022 9:15am
Have you ever felt tempted to check your phone while driving? To quickly change a song or swipe away a notification? Well, under new laws, this could land you with a hefty fine.
It’s never a good idea to put yourself or other road users in danger by using your phone while driving — be it texting or calling. However, now the laws have further restricted phone use, declaring that even touching a phone on the road is an offence.
Read on to find out exactly what these new laws have stated.
What are the new phone law changes?
The government has now decreed that it is illegal for all motorists to use a handheld device under virtually any circumstance, including (but not limited to):
- Taking photos
- Scrolling through playlists
- Playing games
- Checking messages
The aim of the new law is to close a gap that was previously exploited as a loophole by dangerous drivers. Under the previous laws, it was ruled that as long as drivers were not using their phones for so-called ‘interactive communication’, they could not be prosecuted. This is because the law was written before mobile phones could carry out more complicated tasks such as taking videos.
If you are caught using your handheld device while on driving on the road, you could face charges of up to £1,000 as well as 6 points on your license — or even a full driving ban!
Following his claim to make Britain’s roads “among the safest in the world”, the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, has said, “I will do everything in my power to keep road-users safe, which is why I am taking a zero-tolerance approach to those who decide to risk lives by using their phone behind the wheel.” And ‘zero tolerance’ it is indeed.
This new law falls in line with the government’s wider aim to bolster road safety through the Department for Transport’s £100 million Safer Roads Fund.
What can you still use your phone for under the new driving laws?
In today’s day and age, phones are and will always be an integral part of daily life. So, to rule them out completely is extremely difficult. That’s why the government has allowed a few usages of phones under certain conditions.
Drivers are still able to use their phones for contactless payments when using facilities such as drive-thru’s, for example. However, the car must be stationary during these interactions. You are also still permitted to have the phone visible in a cradle if it is not touched, allowing mobile sat-navs.
That being said, you are still liable for prosecution if you are deemed to not be in proper control of your vehicle.
When did the new phone law changes come into effect?
The Transport Secretary announced the law on the 25th of March 2022, and it came into effect immediately.
The law was announced following a public survey which concluded that 81% of people supported the introduction of such a rule.
Keep your eyes and ears open as, in the coming weeks, the government will roll out an awareness campaign to spread the news of the law. The award-winning THINK! team has launched an £800,000 campaign to remind drivers of the consequences of using a handheld device at the wheel, as well as the penalties for refusing to comply.
The ‘Hands on the wheel? Hands off your phone!’ campaign will run across videos on social media, demand, and other online video platforms to specifically target young people. You can watch it here. The campaign is due to remain public until the end of April.
How should you respond to the new law?
In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it can be easy to forget the rules of the road — and it is always tempting to check your phone. But it really is important to comply here to keep yourself, your passengers, and other road users safe.
In an interview, the AA president, Edmund King, offers some tips for drivers struggling to resist the temptation of their phones. King says, “The best thing to do is to convert your glovebox into a phone box. We all need to keep our hands on the wheel and our eyes on the road.” And we couldn’t agree more.
King also reminds us that even using phones in dashboard holders or ‘cradles’ is still just as dangerous, saying: “Those who believe they can still play with their phone because it’s in a cradle must think again – they leave themselves open to prosecution for either careless or dangerous driving”.
To find out more about driving, phones, and the law, head over to GOV.UK’s official webpage on the matter.
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