Using a mobile phone whilst driving – proposed changes to the law

Under proposed changes to the law, motorists are to be banned from any use of a mobile phone whilst driving.

It is currently illegal to make calls and send text messages, but a potential loophole still exists for drivers to take photographs, videos, or use music apps while driving.

The current wording of the law bans using a handheld device for “interactive communication” as app-laden phones did not exist in 2003 when the law was originally introduced.

The Department of Transport is proposing a change to the law which will ban all handheld use of a mobile phone while driving. The law will still allow handsfree use, for example using a mobile phone in a holder as a sat nav. However, drivers who type in destinations while on the move could still be prosecuted for driving without due care and attention.

The statistics for using a mobile phone whilst driving

The RAC state that there have been 2263 crashes caused by drivers using a mobile phone between 2013 and 2017. There were 33 fatal crashes in 2017 due to mobile phone use at the wheel. 25% of people admitted to talking on a handheld phone while driving in 2018. 40% said they checked texts or social media when in traffic in 2018.

Last year, crashes where using a mobile phone whilst driving was a contributory factor caused 637 casualties, including 18 deaths and 135 serious injuries.

The proposal is expected to be passed into law early 2021 following a 12-week public consultation which will end in January 2021.

While it will be illegal to pick up your mobile whilst driving, there is likely to be an exemption when using your mobile phone for contactless purchases, for example at drive-throughs, provided the vehicle is stationary.

Minister for Roads, Baroness Vere, said: “Our roads are some of the safest in the world, but we want to make sure they’re safer still by bringing the law into the 21st Century. That’s why we’re looking to strengthen the law to make using a hand-held phone while driving illegal in a wider range of circumstances. It’s distracting and dangerous and far too long risky drivers have been able to escape punishment, but this update will mean those doing the wrong thing will face the full force of the law”

Motoring organisation the AA welcomed the tighter legislation. Jack Cousens, head of roads policy, said: “Drivers should be focused on the road ahead and not the tweet or email that has just pinged to their phone.”

The intended changes will apply through the whole of the UK. Any driver caught using a hand-held device for any purpose will receive the current fixed penalty sentence of a £200 fine and six penalty points. on their driving licence

Be aware that should you reach 12-points on your licence you would be totting up, leading to a 6-month ban. Should you find yourself in this position, please do contact Ashworth Motoring Law on our 24/7 motoring law helpline on 0330 33 22 770 for FREE initial legal advice. We can save your driving licence and keep you on the road.