Rules on mobile phone use while driving to be tightened up

Government launches consultation that could make it illegal for drivers to take photos and make video calls while driving...

Person on phone while driving

A 12-week consultation has been launched by the Government to discuss the best way to tighten up the UK’s handheld mobile phone use law, which has been criticised by road safety organisations as having too many loopholes. 

At present drivers can be fined £200 and be given six penalty points for making a handheld call or sending a text message while in a car, but they can pick up a phone to take a photo, make a video call or even play an online game. 

The current legislation only bans people from using a phone for “interactive telecommunication” because app-laden smart phones didn’t exist when the law was originally introduced in 2003.  

The intended change in the law comes after a driver who videoed the scene of an accident as he drove past it in 2019 had his conviction quashed. 

In announcing the consultation, roads minister Baroness Charlotte Vere said: “We’re looking to strengthen the law to make using a handheld 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.”

Although it is likely to become illegal to pick your phone up while at the wheel of your car, there are likely to be exemptions for certain circumstances, such as when using it to pay for food at a drive-through restaurant. 

The hands-free use of a mobile in a holder for various functions, such as sat-nav guidance, will remain legal. However, drivers who type in destinations while on the move could still be prosecuted for driving without due care and attention. 

The consultation period will end in January 2021, and the law is expected to change soon afterwards. 

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Read more: A third of drivers admit to using a handheld mobile at the wheel >>