Mobile phone whilst driving

There's strictly no dancing around these new mobile phone driving laws... 

Talks are in place to make rules around using a mobile phone whilst driving even more severe. This is in order to minimise the accidents caused by distracted drivers and encourage due care and attention on our roads...

Whilst current laws prohibit using a handheld device to make a call or send a text, they do not cover the use of mobile devices to scroll through a playlist or some driver's desire to take a photo or video. According to a recent announcement by the UK Government, this is soon to change.

Screen on BMW X5

Current regulations

The current regulations in place state it is "illegal to hold a phone or sat nav while driving or riding a motorcycle". Instead, you must have hands-free access, such as:

  • a bluetooth headset
  • voice command
  • a dashboard holder or mat
  • a windscreen mount
  • a built-in sat nav

Importantly, the device "must not block your view of the road and traffic ahead".

The police still have the right to stop you if they believe you are distracted or not properly in control of the vehicle. Despite what you may think, this law still very much applies if you're stopped at lights or queuing in traffic. You may also be surprised to know that if you're in the passenger seat supervising a Learner Driver, then this also applies. 

New proposed rules

Mobile device use whilst driving inhibits road safety and means that drivers tend to exceed speed limits. In an attempt to close the mobile phone use loophole were drivers can currently use their phones for instances not seen as ‘interactive communication’, new rules are set to be put in place. Under new plans, the government hopes to ban mobile phone use in ALL circumstances. On top of the instances we have already listed, the following actions will also be banned:

  • Taking photos
  • Playing games
  • Using their handheld device to scroll through a playlist

This comes alongside a statement from Roads Minister, Baroness Ver, who 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 for 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."

Woman behind the wheel of Mercedes-Benz E-Class

The current penalty for using a mobile device while driving is six points and a £200 fine. However, most importantly, the repercussions of mobile device use could be a road accident involving you and other parties. While these punishments won't increase in severity following the new rules, the restrictions mean more behaviour relating to mobile phone usage will now be punishable. These new rules, proposed on the 17th October 2020, are set to make our roads even safer. 

Exemptions will be made under the new rules to recognise the acceptance of contactless payments at drive-thrus if the vehicles are stationary and “the good or services are delivered immediately”. 

Importantly, drivers will still be able to make use of their cars’ handsfree systems and, with features such as the Mercedes-Benz voice activated MBUX system, hands-free control could not be easier.

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