Use of Mobile Phones When Driving

The new vehicle safety law that could affect your drivers

In line with the recent changes to the Highway Code, the rules around mobile phone usage have now come into effect. Here’s everything you and your drivers need to know about the changes….

It has been illegal to use your mobile phone whilst driving since 2003 when the legislation was amended. However, due to a flaw in the legislation, some drivers avoided prosecution due to a loophole.  The rules outlined in this law were to stop ‘interactive communication’ such as making a telephone call, but did not cover other functions such as taking photographs or scrolling on social media.

Effective from March 2022, the outdated laws have been tightened around this topic to ensure optimum safety for both drivers and pedestrians. The law outlines that drivers cannot use their mobile phones for:

  • Playing mobile games
  • Scrolling through music playlists and social media sites
  • Reading and checking notifications on a device
  • Locking, unlocking, and even illuminating a device screen
  • Accessing and using the internet
  • Making or receiving a telephone call
  • Sending or uploading oral and written content
  • Taking photographs, videos and sound recording functionalities
  • Using and amending any documents, books or audio files, among many other things; including whilst the telephone is in a holder and the driver is stopped at a red light.

The changes have been brought to effect to ensure the law evolves with the technology, especially with the wide range of smartphone functions. The transport secretary, Grant Shapps has stated that “Too many deaths and injuries occur when mobile phones are being held. By making it easier to prosecute people illegally using their phone at the wheel, we are ensuring the law is brought into the 21st century, while further protecting all road users.”

A recent trial conducted by roadside cameras recorded one in 200 drivers using their mobile phones on the motorway which amounts to over 4,600 motorists per day who have been able to use their hand-held devices without consequence when driving.

The penalty a driver would face if they were to break the law and be caught by the police or traffic cameras using their mobile phone, remains at 6 points on their driving licence and up to a £1,000 fine. Furthermore, if caught breaking this law within 2 years of passing your driving test, your licence can be revoked.

Whilst the law clearly outlines the framework that drivers must adhere to in relation to the use of their mobile phones whilst driving, it is important to understand that there is some minor flexibility within this law, for when emergency situations occur –

JCT600 VLS welcomes the tightening of this law and hopes that it will reduce the negative impact created by drivers to themselves and others whilst using their mobile phones behind the wheel. This is echoed by others within the industry such as AA’s president Edmund King who also approves the tightening of the legislation, and encourages drivers to “Convert your glovebox into a phone box. We all need to keep our hands on the wheel and our eyes on the road.”