How did the mobile phone laws change on March 1st?
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  • Mobile Phone Laws 2017 - What's Changed?
  • 15 May 2017
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    Mobile Phone Laws 2017 - What's Changed?

    As of the 1st of March 2017, you could face a £200 penalty, 6 points, or even lose your license for using a mobile phone behind the wheel. Get caught up on what these new laws mean.

As many of you may or may not know it has been illegal to use a mobile phone while driving since 2003! A law that was implemented to combat the ever growing trend of the mobile phone. Recently, on the 1st of March, the rules changed again, becoming more strict and of higher consequence. This new law is to target those who still continue to use their phone at the wheel, including those who quickly check their messages at traffic lights.

With these new stricter rules come heavier consequences too, six penalty points, a £200 fine and a possible loss of your license are just some of the practices now in play to try and dissuade people from taking the risk. The new laws also mean that those who have passed their test within the last two years will lose their license.

We understand that a few of you may be questioning why this has been brought in and all of you will be wanting to know how you can avoid these new penalties.

The laws have become stricter following an increase in the number of accidents occurring which have involved a mobile phone. The hope is that this new law will deter road users from taking the risk. Recent studies have shown that texting whilst driving is TWICE as dangerous as driving under the influence. Drink driving has been widely accepted as an absolute taboo and is generally frowned on, this new approach to using your phone whilst driving will hopefully put it in the same social bracket. The anti drink driving campaigns have been rife throughout recent years and texting whilst driving is set to follow suit.

  • Where should you store your phone? Whilst you are driving make sure you do not touch your mobile phone, not even at traffic lights. The easiest way to do this? Remove the temptation, stow your mobile in the glove box or turn it off. Out of sight, out of mind. Mobile use has become almost addictive, it’s second nature to check your phone at the first hint of any communication. Do yourself a favour and teach yourself to not!
  • Can you use your phone whilst stationary? If you are sitting in a traffic jam or at traffic lights it is still illegal to use your phone. Any situation that may need you to react by moving your car etc is classed as driving even when at a complete standstill.

  • You can use hands-free whilst driving, this is completely legal. BUT if the police feel you are distracted enough you will be prosecuted. It is recommended that you keep your calls to a minimum.

  • If you are wanting to use your mobile phone during a journey you’re only truly legal approach would be to pull over in a safe spot and have your handbrake on. It is also advisable to turn the engine off too, not only does it help you to avoid any dispute over you intended to drive and chat but it’s also good for the environment.

  • What about your passengers? Your passengers are free to use their phones as long as they don’t show you the screen or distract you by doing so!
  • Here’s a tricky one… Can you use your phone whilst going through a drive-through? The answer to this is no, all your attention is still required and you may be prosecuted for driving without due care and attention…
  • What if you are using your phone to pay at a drive-through? Now, this is something that wasn’t anticipated when the mobile phone bans were introduced. Using your phone to ‘tap and pay’ ONLY is okay.
  • Can you use the Sat Nav on your phone? Yes, BUT it must be docked and the route pre-programmed before you set off. Touching your screen once to accept route notifications is fine.
  • Can you have your phone in a cradle so you can see it? Yes. BUT if you want to use it for calls it MUST be linked to the Bluetooth system.
  • Can you play music through your phone and touch the screen to change songs etc? NO. You can listen to music but that is it. Set your playlist up before you set off or use allocated car buttons or voice recognition.

  • Can you have a drink whilst driving? Yes as long as it is non-alcoholic, obviously. Though, if you are in an incident or seem to be distracted whilst driving it is at the police’s discretion as to whether this is a factor and you can be prosecuted. It is recommended to try to not drink whilst driving and if you have to then try and ensure it’s a quick and easy to access receptacle which is stored somewhere easy to reach.

  • What about snacks? The same applies here as it does to beverages. There is no law against eating whilst driving but if you were involved in an incident or your driving is distracted it is at the police’s discretion to decide whether you could have avoided it.

  • Can you smoke whilst driving? It is illegal to smoke in a company vehicle and has been so since 2007, this carries a fine of £50. In October 2015 it became illegal to smoke in a vehicle with someone under the age of 18. This is as far of the smoking whilst driving laws have gone and do not apply to e-cigarettes or vaping.     
  • Do these laws apply to cyclists? At this point, it is not an actual offence to cycle whilst using a mobile but this doesn’t mean you won’t be prosecuted for dangerous cycling. Driving without due care and attention also applies to bikes, so any of the above could apply to a bike too!

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