First introduced in 2003, the UK’s mobile phone driving laws have led to millions of motorists getting fined for dialling whilst behind the wheel. Back then, drivers caught breaking the rules were handed a £60 fine. This rose to £100 in 2013 for a mobile-phone related offence.
Fines increased to £200, and penalty points endorsements doubled, in 2017, to act as a further deterrent. But has it worked?
According to a GoCompare report, since 2015, Britain’s drivers have been issued a total of £34,295,600 in fines for mobile use. However, the number of fines looks to be decreasing each year. In 2015 there were 67,282 fines handed out, compared to only 24,036 in 2019.
With updated mobile phone laws coming into force from March 25, drivers are being warned of the impending new rules. The new laws also serve as a continuous reminder to stay off your phone when driving.
The main updates to the new rules include banning drivers from using their phones to take photos or videos, play games or scroll through music playlists.
It is already against the law to use a hand-held device to send a text or make a call while driving unless it’s an emergency. It is also illegal to use a phone whilst stationary in traffic or at traffic lights, as this still counts as ‘driving’, according to a spokesperson at road safety and breakdown organisation, GEM Motoring Assist.
To simply put, using a mobile phone whilst driving is an extremely dangerous action which puts not only the offenders at risk, but anyone who happens to be in or near their vehicle.
The updated law removes any opportunity to interpret what’s allowed and what’s not. If you’re holding a phone while driving – and that includes when you’re stopped at lights or in a queue – you can be prosecuted.
GEM Motoring Assist wants to be sure that every driver gets the message: any activity involving a mobile phone at the wheel is a potentially fatal distraction.
So, if you’re tempted to pick the phone up on a journey, please think again.
Here, GEM shares useful advice regarding mobile phones and driving:
1. You’re allowed to use a mobile phone when you are safely parked, with the engine off and the handbrake on.
2. Please do not pick up your phone in any other driving situation, including when you’re stationary at traffic lights or queueing in traffic.
3. The only exception to this is if it’s an emergency and it would be unsafe or impractical to stop, in which case you may call 999.
4. Don’t assume that using a hands-free kit means you have dealt with the risk. You are still allowing yourself to be distracted from the task of safe driving, and you could still be prosecuted for not being in control (an offence that carries a £100 fine and three penalty points).
5. Take a few minutes before a journey to make important calls or to check voice messages and emails. Work together with friends, family, colleagues, and work contacts to remove the expectation that we should all be available, all the time.
6. Plan journeys to build in breaks from driving, where you can call, text or email or interact with social media in a safe environment.