New laws have come into place (25th March) which can see drivers handed a £200 fine and 6 points on their licence if they are seen handling a phone whilst driving. This comes as the government are cracking down on a loophole which allowed motorists to use their mobile phones at the wheel without facing any consequences.
The law previously stated drivers will only be sanctioned for ‘interactive communication’ using a handheld device while driving, such as texting or making phone calls. This means if you were seen using your phone for something other than making phone calls and texts then you could escape receiving fines or any penalty points.
What’s covered by the new ban?
The list of reasons why a driver could be punished have been made much more extensive – the full list includes:
- Illuminating the phone screen
- Checking the time
- Checking notifications
- Unlocking the device
- Making, receiving, or rejecting a telephone or internet based call
- Sending, receiving or uploading oral or written content
- Sending, receiving or uploading a photo or video
- Utilising camera, video, or sound recording functionality
- Drafting any text
- Accessing any stored data such as documents, books, audio files, photos, videos, films, playlists, notes or messages
- Accessing an application
- Accessing the internet
Are there any exceptions?
There will however be one exception to the new rules, drivers are allowed to make contactless payments using their mobile phones while stationary to ensure the law keeps pace with technology. Drivers will also still be allowed to use their phone if secured in a holder or cradle when using their mobile as a sat-nav or by making ‘hands-free’ calls.
How will the new law be enforced?
The police will be using new ‘spy-in-the-sky' technology, which uses specialist equipment which helps identify drivers who are using mobile phones at the wheel, as well as catch motorists eating, drinking or not wearing a seatbelt. The technology has already been trialled on an undisclosed motorway before the blanket ban comes into place.