The Government is closing loopholes in the use of mobile phones making it illegal to use a hand-held device under virtually any circumstance while driving.
It is already illegal to text or make a phone call (except in an emergency) using a hand-held device while driving. In 2022, new rules will be introduced to stop drivers from using their phones to take photos or videos, scroll through playlists or play games.
Anyone caught using their hand-held device while driving will face a £200 fixed penalty notice and six points on their licence. Considering the potential consequences of using a mobile device and driving the penalties could have been much stronger to act as a deterrent. However, if the police deem that anyone using a mobile device is not in proper control of their vehicle the driver can be charged with careless driving and much tougher penalties could apply.
Drivers will still be able to continue using a device ‘hands-free’ while driving, such as a sat-nav, as long as it is secured in a cradle. Whilst it may be legal driver distraction from taking calls can be catastrophic. This announcement will be welcomed by many road users.
The Government will revise The Highway Code to explain the new measures and spell out 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 for drivers making a contactless payment using their mobile phone for 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.
With 6 penalty points for mobile phone use it is vital that road transport operators have a regular, automated process for checking their drivers’ licences. SmartLicence checks driving licences against the DVLA database and sends automated alerts for new points on a licence. Sign-up or get a quote for your drivers.