Any use of a hand-held mobile phone while driving becomes illegal

  • the government is strengthening existing laws making it illegal to use a mobile phone while driving in virtually all circumstances
  • follows a public consultation which revealed that 81% of people were in favor of such a decision
  • the rules of the road will change, making it clear that the use of mobile phones at traffic lights or in traffic jams is illegal

Police will soon be able to more easily prosecute drivers using mobile phones while driving after the government tightened existing laws to further improve road safety.

It is already illegal to text or make a phone call (other than in an emergency) using a handheld device while driving. Next year, laws will go further to prohibit drivers from using their phones to take photos or videos, scroll through playlists or play games.

This means anyone caught using their handheld device while driving will face a fixed £200 fine and 6 points on their licence.

Drivers will still be able to continue to use a “hands-free” device while driving, such as a satellite navigation system, if it is secured in a cradle. However, they must still take responsibility for their driving and can be charged with an offense if the police find that they are not in proper control of their vehicle.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

Too many deaths and injuries occur while cell phones are being held.

By making it easier to prosecute people who illegally use their phones while driving, we are ensuring that the law enters the 21st century while further protecting all road users.

Although our roads remain among the safest in the world, we will continue to work tirelessly to make them safer, including through our award-winning THINK program! campaign, which challenges social norms among high-risk drivers.

This follows a public consultation which found that 81% of respondents supported proposals to strengthen the law and make it easier to prosecute perpetrators.

Following the public consultation, the government will revise the Highway Code to explain the new measures. It will also be more specific about whether being stopped in traffic counts as driving, stating that using a hand-held cell phone at traffic lights or in traffic 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 toll road, and will only apply when payment is made with a card reader. It will not allow motorists to make general payments online while driving.

Mary Williams EBOchief executive of Brake, the road safety charity, said:

Driver distraction can be deadly and using a cell phone while driving is never worth the risk. This important government decision on road safety, coinciding with Road Safety Week, is very welcome.

This news is especially welcomed by families suffering from bereavement and catastrophic injuries from drivers distracted by phones. The theme for Road Safety Week is Road Safety Heroes – we can all be road safety heroes by giving our full attention to driving.

The Department for Transport also today released a study by Ipsos Mori of drivers who use their mobile phones while driving.

Among other findings, the research reveals that young drivers are more likely to have used a handheld device while driving, confirming the aim of the government’s award-winning THINK! campaign, which aims to improve road safety by targeting young motorists and high-risk road users.

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