Tough New Driving Penalties Introduced

Using a phone whilst driving could cost you your licence

Posted on: 17/03/2017   By: Lee Rance

It’s been illegal to use a handheld phone at the wheel since 2003 and now new laws can see fines for drivers, caught using their mobile phones, doubled from £100 to £200 and the maximum number of penalty points has also increased from three to six.

The new laws, which came into force on the 1st March 2017, are especially important for new drivers who can have their licence revoked if they get six penalty points in their first two years on the road, which could now be the result of sending a single text message. More experienced motorists can also lose their licence if they receive 12 points in a three-year period.

Drivers are allowed to use a phone if it is fully hands-free but they’re not allowed to pick it up and operate it at all. Hands-free devices should be fully set up before beginning the journey, so calls can be taken without handling the device. However research has shown that even using hands-free devices can still be a distraction to driving.

The police still have the power to stop you if they believe you have been distracted by using a mobile phone while driving, even if it’s fully hands-free. Some road safety groups believe mobile phones should be completely switched off while driving, to avoid any distractions.

The mobile phone law also specifically refers to the use of smartphone navigation or mapping apps. The phone must be fixed to the windscreen or dashboard, so it’s in clear view for use while driving, without requiring it to be held. It is no excuse to say you’re simply following the mapping on your hand-held device.

The law also applies when your vehicle is stopped at lights or in a traffic queue. If your engine is running, your phone should be nowhere near your hands or eye line.

Using a mobile phone without hands free and texting whilst driving are considered the fourth biggest cause of accidents after drink, drugs and speeding.

The RAC’s Report on Motoring 2016 states that one in five motorists admit they check social media in traffic, 14% say they take images or video while driving, 20% have written emails, texts or social media updates behind the wheel, and a stout 6% admit they use their hand-held phone “most or all of the time” while driving.

The report goes on to say

it is difficult to say to what extent the distractions from hand-held mobile phone use cause accidents, or whether this problem has become more acute, but it is likely that official statistics understate the problem.

In other words, however alarming the stats are, the reality is probably even worse still.

The RAC have created a campaign called BePhoneSmart.uk that encourages drivers to take a positive step by committing to not using a handheld phone.

On the Government’s THINK website it states that you are four times more likely to have a crash whilst using your phone and your reaction times are reduced by 50%.

We live in a society today where the phone is one of the most important tools we use in business and in our personal lives but is it worth risking causing a serious accident just to check a text or update Facebook? Driving is a mentally demanding task and this alone should occupy all of our attention.

Until next time

Lee Rance