UK to ban use of hand-held phones while driving
News article | November 2020
The UK Government is set to update law to ban drivers from using hand-held phones in any way, not just calling and texting.
Drivers who use hand-held phones in any way behind the wheel will face £200 fines and possible bans when changes in the law take account of smartphones.
Whilst making, receiving calls or texting on a hand-held mobile while driving is currently illegal, drivers are currently allowed to escape charges when spotted using a phone, where the driver claims to be taking photos, scrolling through a music playlist or even playing games on a mobile smartphone device.
The government plans to update the law to close the legal loophole, which currently defines the offence as only “interactive communication”.
Roads minister Baroness Vere said:
“Our roads are some of the safest in the world, but we want to make sure they’re safer still by bringing the law into 21st century.”
“That’s why we’re looking to strengthen the law to make using a hand-held phone while driving illegal in a wider range of circumstances. It’s distracting and dangerous, and for too long risky drivers have been able to escape punishment, but this update will mean those doing the wrong thing will face the full force of the law.”
The government said the change, due to come into law after a 12-week public consultation, which concludes 7th January 2021, is an important move which would allow police to take immediate action if they saw a driver holding and using a phone at the wheel. The offence will incur a £200 fine and six points on the driver’s licence.
Glen Suttenwood, Regional Manager for TTC Group’s Northern & Central Police contract regions welcomed the consultation and move to update the current law, saying:
“The use of mobile smartphones whilst driving and the distraction caused to the driver is one of the four major causes of death and serious injury on the UK roads today and forms part of the nationally recognised ‘fatal 4’ police strategy to reduce road traffic collisions.”
“When legislation was introduced way back in 2003 it was deemed ‘fit for purpose’ concerning the use of mobile phones whilst driving at that time, however, technology has moved on and as the functionality of mobile smartphones has progressed significantly, it is clearly evident the 2003 legislation is no longer ‘fit for purpose’ and recent case law will support this.
“TTC along with other organisations, including those across the third sector, welcomes this review and see this as an opportunity to further strengthen legislation that will seek to improve the safety for all road users through education, the raising of awareness and understanding of the associated risks of using a mobile phone whilst driving in today’s society and providing enforcement agencies the legislative framework to undertake effective enforcement action, whilst embracing the innovative developments across the technology sector.”
Motorists will still be permitted to use smartphones as devices to pay for goods or services at drive-through businesses such as takeaways, using the various contactless payment systems now available to smartphone users.
A government spokeswoman said that motorists could still also use phones as satnavs, providing that the driver is not physically holding the smartphone device. Drivers could still be prosecuted for driving without due care and attention if they try to type in directions or interact with the satnav application whilst at the wheel.
Chief constable Anthony Bangham, the lead for roads policing on the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said:
“Using a mobile phone while driving is incredibly dangerous and being distracted at the wheel can change lives for ever. Police will take robust action against those using a hand-held mobile phone illegally, and proposals to make the law clearer are welcome.”
Find out more about how TTC Group works with UK Police Forces to improve driver behaviour and deliver National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS) courses by visiting www.thettcgroup.com