Mobile phone use and driving

Over the last few years we have all seen increased use of mobile phones. They are now an integral part of our everyday lives, with many of us feeling that we cannot ‘live’ without them.

Mobile phones not only allow us to make calls and receive texts but also make it easier to access social networking sites, browse the internet, use maps and play music. However, they also have a negative side, in that they can create a considerable risk to road safety.

According to ROSPA:

‘There is a substantial body of research that shows that using a hand-held or hands-free mobile phone while driving is a significant distraction, and substantially increases the risk of the driver crashing.’

For more information follow this link to ROSPA’s Driver Distraction Fact Sheet.

Using a phone or handheld device when driving – the facts:

  • Drivers using a hands-free or handheld mobile phone are slower at recognising and reacting to hazards.
  • Research shows:
    • You are 4 times more likely to be in a crash if you use your phone.
    • Your reaction times are 2 times slower if you text and drive than if you drink and drive, and this increases to 3 times if you use a handheld phone.
  • Even careful drivers can be distracted by a call or text – and a split-second lapse in concentration could result in a crash or mean that you don’t see more vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists. At 30 mph a car travels 100 feet in 2.3 seconds.

The law

  • It’s illegal to use a handheld mobile when driving – including using your phone to follow a map, read a text or check social media.
  • You can only use a handheld phone if you are safely parked, or need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop.
  • If you’re caught using a handheld phone while driving, you’ll get 6 penalty points on your licence and a fine of £200.
  • Using a hands-free device (for example, for navigation) is not illegal. However, if this distracts you and affects your ability to drive safely, you can still be prosecuted by the police.

The mobile phone driving law also applies if:

  • you stop at traffic lights or in queuing traffic
  • you’re stuck in a traffic jam
  • your vehicle is in automatic ‘stop-start’ mode
  • you’re a passenger who is supervising a learner driver

The consequences

  • You can get a fixed penalty notice – a £200 fine and 6 penalty points for using a hand-held phone when driving
  • You can get 3 penalty points if you don’t have full view of the road ahead or proper control of the vehicle.
  • If taken to court you could face disqualification and a fine of up to £1,000 (£2,500 if you’re driving a lorry or a bus).

New Drivers

  • If you get 6 points in the first 2 years after passing your test, you will lose your licence.
  • If this happens new drivers will have to apply and pay for a new provisional licence, and pass both the theory and practical parts of the test all over again.

Final Thought

Watch this Think!! advert urging drivers to put their phone away while driving. The campaign launched on the 1st March 2017, when the penalties doubled for drivers caught using their phone behind the wheel: from 3 to 6 penalty points and fines from £100 to £200.

Read more

Useful Links

ROPSA – Distracted Driving

ROSPA – mobile phone and driving fact sheet

WYP – Mobiles when driving

THINK!! – – mobile phones and driving

Designated driver campaign

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