Tough new mobile phone driving laws come into force this Friday - with fines of £200
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From March 25, a major loophole in the law around mobile phone use will be closed, making it illegal to use your handheld phone for any purpose.
Currently, it is against the law to use a handheld phone to make or receive calls or messages while driving but outdated language in the legislation means activities such as taking photos or scrolling through music playlists aren’t illegal.
From 25 March, the law is changing to cover these and any other handheld use while driving.
Breaking the revised law will carry the same punishment as before - a fixed £200 fine and six penalty points. For drivers caught within two years of passing their test that is enough to have their licence revoked.
The original law was created 17 years ago and banned “interactive communication” but not other offline uses.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the updates to the rules were being made to reflect the wide range of functions of modern smartphones and effectively ban any phone use while driving.
Under the changes, the law will be expanded to make it an offence to use a phone or other handheld device for non-connected mobile application actions while driving, including while stopped at traffic lights or in traffic jams. This will include:
• Illuminating the 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
• Drafting any text
• Accessing any stored data such as documents, books, audio files, photos, videos, films, playlists, notes or messages
• Accessing an app
• Accessing the internet
An exception will be made for using contactless payment at locations such as drive-through restaurants, and for making emergency 999 calls where it would be unsafe or impractical to stop.
A spokesman for road safety group Gem Motoring Assist urged drivers to brush up on the law and not to use their phone when driving.
He commented: “We know that using a mobile phone whilst driving is an extremely dangerous action which puts not only the offenders at risk,
He commented: “We know that 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.
“That’s why we want to be sure 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.”