Your Guide to Using Your Mobile Phone at the Wheel
It’s been illegal to use your mobile phone at the wheel for over a decade, but on 1st March 2017, the laws got much tougher. Now that these changes have been in effect for a few months, we take a look at what they are and how they affect you.
What Are the Mobile Phone Driving Laws in the UK?
The laws on using a mobile phone at the wheel are pretty straightforward: the answer is in fact that you should not use your phone at the wheel of a car. Sounds quite obvious, right? Well, according to a recent survey commissioned by Co-op Insurance, 16% of drivers admitted to using their phone at the wheel in the past month alone – whether that was to make a call, reply to a text, change their music or, perhaps most worryingly of all, update their social media.
What Do These Changes in the Law Mean?
The latest government crackdown saw the law become much stricter on those caught using their phone whilst driving a car or riding a motorcycle, whether the vehicle is moving or not.
It’s been illegal to read and/or reply to a text, check emails or social media, or take calls at the wheel since 2003, but these rules became stricter in spring 2017 due to the increase in road accidents and fatalities as a result of drivers being distracted by their phones while at the wheel.
This applies to drivers of cars, motorbikes, buses and other motorised vehicles.
Driving with a Hands-Free Device
Whilst you’re still allowed to use hands-free devices, it’s crucial that the device is fully set up before you drive, so you can take calls without handling it.
However, limitations to this mean that the police can still stop you if they believe your driving has been affected or you’ve been distracted by your call.
It’s easy to get distracted by a conversation, particularly on your phone, so try to limit calls to strictly necessary or emergency ones.
The Law on Using Your Phone as a Satnav
The law is clear: you must not use any handheld mobile, even as a satnav.
If you set your phone up to give directions before starting your journey and it’s attached to the windscreen or dashboard and in clear view while you’re driving, it is okay to use your mobile phone as a satnav whilst driving. This would mean that your journey is loaded onto the phone before you start your engine or begin your journey. If your car is in motion, only a passenger can amend the journey on your phone, or you’ll have to safely pull over.
When Is It Okay to Use Your Mobile Phone in a Car?
You must be safely parked to be able to use your mobile phone in your vehicle. This does not include being stopped at traffic lights, or waiting in a traffic jam.
Essentially, if your engine is running, the law applies and you should not touch your mobile phone.
However, in an emergency, it is okay to dial 999 if it’s not safe to stop.
What Are the Penalties for Using Your Phone Whilst Driving?
As part of the crackdown, drivers may find themselves with six penalty points and a £200 fine if they are using a handheld phone.
The government has also warned that you could be taken to court, where you can be banned from driving or riding, and you could even get a £1,000 fine. That’s if you’ve been driving for longer than two years; if you’ve only passed your test in the last 24 months, you will lose your licence.
Can I Lose My Licence If I’ve Been Caught Using My Mobile Phone at the Wheel?
Yes, you could lose your licence if you’re caught using your phone at the wheel – especially if you’ve held a licence for less than two years.
More experienced drivers can lose their licence if they receive 12 points in a three-year period, which can mean being caught using your phone just twice. In certain circumstances, at the police’s discretion, you as the driver could be taken to court, face a fine of up to £2,000 and eventually be disqualified. If you cause someone’s death by dangerous or careless driving, you could face up to life imprisonment.
If you’ve been caught using your mobile phone whilst driving, and have a CU80 conviction on your licence, you may find that you struggle to find affordable insurance cover. At Complete Cover Group, we help drivers with CU80 convictions find affordable insurance, so if you’re looking for great value cover click for an online quote or speak to our friendly team on 0800 997 8232.