Mobile Phone Driving Laws Loophole to be Closed
A loophole which allows motorists in the UK to hold their phones while driving is set to be closed, the government has announced.
Under current laws, it’s illegal for UK drivers to make calls or texts on handheld mobile devices while behind the wheel. However, a loophole in the law means that some drivers have gone unpunished for using their phones behind the wheel for other reasons, such as for taking a photo.
The government has now announced that it plans to change the law to make it illegal to use your phone behind the wheel for any reason at all, including browsing the internet, searching for a song on Spotify or entering their destination into Google Maps. The Department for Transport hopes that the new rules will be put in place by spring next year.
“We recognise that staying in touch with the world while travelling is an essential part of modern day life but we are also committed to making our roads safe,” said the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. “Drivers who user a hand-held mobile phone are hindering their ability to spot hazards and react in time – putting people’s lives at risk.
“We welcome the Transport Select Committee’s report, and share their drive to make our roads even safer which is why this review will look to tighten up the existing law to bring it into the 21st century, preventing reckless driving and reduce accidents on our roads.”
Samuel Nahk, senior public affairs officer at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said: “All phone use behind the wheel is dangerous and to get this message across to drivers the law must reflect this. Far too many people still use their phone behind the wheel, yet it should be as unacceptable as drink driving, with research showing that reaction times whilst texting are double those of drink-drivers.”
Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for road safety charity Brake, said: “We welcome the government’s move to clarify the law on using hand-held mobile devices while driving and close loopholes which treat sending or receiving data differently, allowing drivers acting dangerously to escape prosecution.
“The committee’s report was clear on the dangers of hands-free devices and it is troubling that they will not be banned despite the government’s acknowledgement of the risk. The current law provides a dangerous false impression that it is safe to use a mobile phone with a hands-free kit when driving – it is not. All phone use behind the wheel is dangerous and to get this message across to drivers the law must reflect this.”
Currently, if you are caught using your handheld mobile phone or sat nav whilst driving, you could be hit with a fine, plus penalty points on your licence or a driving ban. You will also have to declare your conviction to your car insurance provider, and you may well your premiums surge.