Motorists are being given a stark warning not to put their lives at risk by using a mobile phone while driving – as a new law comes into force this month.
From Friday (25 March), stricter rules for the use of mobile phones and other interactive devices behind the wheel are set to be introduced.
The Road Vehicles Regulations are being updated to keep up with changes in technology, recognising that mobile phones are more interactive now than when the law was first introduced in 2003.
Handling a phone in any way; from touching the screen to scrolling a music playlist, browsing the internet, taking a photograph or playing a mobile game - will all be covered by the change in legislation.
An offence will have been committed whenever a driver holds and uses a device, regardless of why they are holding it.
Any motorist caught will face an immediate £200 fixed penalty notice and six points on their licence.
New drivers – those within the first two years of holding a full licence – will risk having their licence removed by the courts.
The only exceptions will be if drivers are making a call to emergency services or making contactless payments at drive-thrus and toll roads.
However, motorists will still be able to continue using a device ‘hands-free’ while driving, such as a sat-nav, providing it is secured in a cradle.
But they must always take responsibility for their driving and can be charged with an offence if the police find them not to be in proper control of their vehicle.
The changes support the on-going work of Staffordshire Police’s #PhoneFree campaign which was launched in March 2020 and highlights the dangers of using your phone whilst driving.
Department for Transport statistics show that in 2020, 17 people were killed, 114 people were seriously injured, and 385 were slightly injured in road traffic accidents in Great Britain where the driver was using a mobile phone.
Inspector Mark Joynson, of the force’s Road Policing Unit, said: “These new laws are being brought in to make our roads safer and help to prevent dangerous driving.
“Those who choose to use a mobile phone while driving are putting the lives of the themselves and other road users at risk.
“It only takes being distracted by a device for a second to stop someone reacting to a hazard and the impact can be devastating.
“Being sat in a queue or waiting for traffic lights to change is not an excuse - we want people to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road.”
There are many ways to resist the temptation to use your phone whilst driving including:
- switching it off completely - placing it in the glove compartment - use safe driving mode to mute any calls or texts