New phone rules

explained

Driver using mobile phone

NEW rules governing the use of mobile phones in cars have been explained as the Government moves to plug a loophole in the current legislation.

Under the new regulations drivers who use hand-held phones in any way while at the wheel will face a fine of £200 and six points on their licence.

Road safety organisation GEM Motoring Assist has now put out a series of guidelines explaining the move to drivers.

The organisation says that making calls or texting on a hand-held mobile while driving was already against the law, however scrolling through music playlists, playing games or taking photographs have up until now not been included.

Drivers have been able to exploit the legal loophole because these activities fell outside the scope of ‘interactive communication'.

An example is from 2019, when the High Court overturned the conviction of 51-year-old builder Ramsey Baretto, who had been using his phone to film the scene of a collision in London as he drove by.

GEM chief executive Neil Worth warned it is now vital for more roads policing officers to be available to ensure the new law would be effective.

"The update to this law is welcome, because any activity involving a mobile phone while driving is a potentially fatal distraction," he said.

"But we must see more police patrols out there looking for the drivers who continue to flout the rules. Action needs to be taken against anyone who is prepared to risk their own life - or someone else's - by selfishly using a hand-held phone while driving."

Specific mobile phone driving laws were introduced in December 2003 which saw motorists handed a £60 fine for an offence before rising to £100 in 2013.

Fines increased to £200 and penalty points endorsements doubled in 2017, to act as a further deterrent.

GEM's guide regarding mobile phone use and driving is:

1. You're allowed to use a mobile phone when you are safely parked, with the engine off and the handbrake on.

2. 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.

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