By now, few people will be unaware of the horrendous recent news stories concerning accidents that have been caused by drivers who were using their mobile phones at the wheel. Few people will also be aware that there has been a change in the law around the issue of phone use whilst driving.
One of the most recent cases was that of lorry driver Tomasz Kroker who killed a mother and her three children when he ploughed his truck into the back of their car at 50 mph while he was looking at his phone.
Another case occurred in 2005 when a woman was killed after a young driver lost control of his car and mounted the pavement because he was using his phone. It is clear that the issue of drivers causing needless accidents has been problematic for many years and that families are suffering the fall-out from this for the rest of their lives in some cases.
In 2015, 22 people were killed and 99 seriously injured by drivers using their phones.
With statistics like these it’s no wonder the government has decided to double the penalties for using a phone at the wheel in order to reduce the accident statistics and make using a phone while driving socially unacceptable. Here Concept Law outline the latest changes in the law on using your phone at the wheel:
The New Law
The penalty for using a phone while driving has changed from 1st March 2017 and now stands at 6 points on the license and a fine of £200. If a driver is caught using a phone within two years of passing a driving test they face losing their license; this will apply in England, Wales and Scotland. A new driver with 6 points or more will have to re-take their practical and theory tests whilst experienced drivers face a ban if they amass 12 points in three years.
The law is quite unequivocal on what is and is not allowed whilst driving a vehicle and particularly on mobile phone use.
Whilst driving a driver must not:
- Use a hand-held phone for any reason (calls, texting or checking social media) even if you are stopped at traffic-lights.
- Anyone supervising a learner driver or motorcycle rider should also know that it is illegal to use a hand-held phone whilst they are supervising.
- Watch video clips even if the phone is mounted in a properly fitted hands-free holder. You may use your phone to listen to music or podcasts providing it is connected via Bluetooth or is mounted hands-free.
A driver is allowed to:
- Use the phone’s sat-nav providing it is in a hands-free mounting.
- You can pull in and park safely to use your phone but the engine must be switched off. The only exception to this is if you need to phone 999 or 112 in an emergency and are unable to stop for safety or practical reasons.
In short, a driver will be considered to have committed an offence simply by having a phone in their hands whilst driving, even if the phone is on loudspeaker. Voice-activated software is legal but if using any form of technology is proven to be a distraction the police may decide to prosecute you for an offence.