Hands on the wheel? Hands off your phone.

Using a mobile phone while driving is reckless and dangerous, with the behaviour causing 17 deaths, 114 serious injuries, and 385 minor injuries in road traffic accidents in Great Britain between 2020 and 2021.

That’s why the law has changed. It is now illegal to use hand-held mobile phones while driving or riding a motorcycle. As a result, people using the roads in Leeds will now be safer. The change means that it will now be easier for the police in Leeds to prosecute people who hold and use their phone while driving.

It was already illegal to use a phone or other handheld device to make or receive calls and texts. Now it is also illegal to use devices online or offline in almost all circumstances, including:

  • texting
  • making phone calls
  • checking notifications
  • using apps
  • scrolling through music
  • taking photos
  • taking videos
  • browsing the web
  • illuminating the screen

“It’s illegal to hold and use a phone, sat nav, tablet, or any device that can send or receive data, while driving or riding a motorcycle. This means you must not use a device in your hand for any reason, whether online or offline.”

The Department for Transport

The law also applies when drivers queuing in traffic or waiting at red lights, and covers devices such as tablets and smart watches. Drivers breaking the law can get up to six penalty points and a £200 fine. Those who have passed their driving test in the last two years will lose their licence.

This video from the West Yorkshire Police Road Policing Unit explains more:

Now, the only time it is legal to use a mobile phone at the wheel is if the car is safely parked. The only exceptions are for contactless payment (while stationary), for example to pay for a car park or coffee at a drive-through, and emergency 999 calls when it is not safe to stop. 

The changes could result in more drivers being stopped as part of Operation SPARC as West Yorkshire Police now have the powers to stop drivers who are holding a device – regardless of what they are using it for. Police may also be able to take action on more of the footage of dangerous driving submitted to the online portal by members of the public as part of Operation SNAP.

Using a hands-free mobile phone is still legal, but the risk of distraction is high, putting drivers at risk of being prosecuted for offences such as dangerous driving. 

To find out more, click here.

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