24 November 2021
Government plans to strengthen existing laws to further improve road safety will mean that police will soon be able to prosecute drivers more easily for using a hand-held mobile phone at the wheel.
It is already illegal to text or make a phone call (other than in an emergency) using a hand-held device while driving. Next year, laws will ban drivers from using their phones to take photos or videos, scroll through playlists or play games.
This will mean anyone caught using their hand-held device while driving will face a £200 fixed penalty notice and six points on their licence.
Drivers will still be able to use a device “hands-free” while driving, such as a sat-nav, if it is secured in a cradle but they must always take responsibility for their driving and can be charged with an offence if the police find them not to be in proper control of their vehicle.
This follows a public consultation that found 81% of respondents supported proposals to strengthen the law and make it easier for culprits to be prosecuted.
The Government will revise The Highway Code to explain the new measures. It will also be more precise about the fact that being stationary in traffic counts as driving, making it clear that hand-held mobile phone use at traffic lights or in motorway jams is illegal except in very limited circumstances.
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.
A study by Ipsos Mori about drivers who use mobile phones while driving can be found – here. It notes: “Van and lorry drivers were thought to be more likely to use a handheld mobile phone while driving, prompting concern about the potential for more serious accidents with larger vehicles involved.”