17 March 2022
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Mobile Phone Law Change on 25 March – Drivers Can Face Six Penalty Points and a £200 Fixed Penalty Fine:
In a move to improve road safety, drivers are being warned that from 25 March 2022, new tougher mobile phone use rules come into force when it comes to using mobile phones and other devices when driving.
In 2020, the Department for Transport reported that 17 people were killed on British roads in crashes involving drivers distracted by mobile phones. A further 114 people were seriously injured and 385 were slightly injured in such collisions.
As a result, the Government is making rules on mobile phones in vehicles clearer, so you can more easily be prosecuted, fined and given penalty points if you break the law. To warn drivers of the new rules, a guide on what drivers need to know to avoid fines and points is set out below.
What is the new law coming into effect on 25 March?
From 25 March it will be clarified that drivers in the UK will NOT be allowed to handle any mobile device when driving. This also includes being stationary in traffic, such as at traffic lights or motorway queues.
This means you cannot touch the device to check the time or notifications, take photos or videos, scroll through playlists, or access any apps or the internet.
Prior to this law, motorists could be penalised for ‘interactive communication’ using a hand-held device while driving, such as texting or phone calls (other than in an emergency). The law did not specifically cover other usages, although police could still prosecute drivers for dangerous or careless driving.
The new rules make it much easier for police to hand out fixed penalties or to send drivers to court.
What is the penalty?
Unless it is to make an emergency call, anyone caught using their hand-held device while driving will face a £200 fixed penalty notice and six points on their drivers’ licence.
Can I be fined for using my phone to pay at a drive-thru or toll road?
No. Many have mistakenly believed they can be fined when using their phones to pay when at a drive-through restaurant or toll road. However, The Department for Transport has confirmed drivers are exempt from fines in these areas as long as their vehicle is stable.
The Department for Transport confirmed this loophole last year, in their statement: “There will be an exemption to the new law for drivers making a contactless payment using their mobile phone while stationary to ensure the law keeps pace with technology. This exemption will cover, for example, places like a drive-through restaurant or a road toll, and will only apply when payment is being made with a card reader. It will not allow motorists to make general online payments while driving.”
Can I still use a hands-free device or a Sat-Nav?
Drivers are still allowed to use a device if it is ‘hands-free’ when driving. This includes ‘hands-free’ calls and the use of your phone as a sat-nav, as long as it is secured in a holder.
Safe Driving Advice
The changes to mobile phone driving laws are being introduced to improve safety on UK roads. Drivers must take these rules seriously to help reduce the number of tragic deaths caused by violations.
These adaptations to driving laws are being made in order to keep up-to-date with how technology is used by drivers. The tough penalties are designed to be a strong deterrent to drivers who use their mobile phones behind the wheel.
It is not just mobile devices that drivers should be cautious of. Despite no new rules being enforced on the use of internal infotainment systems, they can be a potential distraction for drivers. Touchscreens have become a common addition to modern vehicles, and the more complex they become, the more distracting they can be. If a driver is found to be not properly in control of their vehicle as a result of using dashboard gadgets or hands-free devices, they can still be prosecuted for careless or dangerous driving.
Dave Joyce National Health, Safety & Environment Officer