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October 23, 2020

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Road safety

Road safety: Drivers to be banned from handling mobile phones

From next year, it could become illegal for anyone to pick up and use their mobile phone while driving, putting an end a loophole that can allow drivers to escape punishment for using a hand-held phone to take a photo or play a game.

Driving while holding a mobile phone to work ,businessman ,vintage color toneA consultation has been launched, proposing expanding the use mobile phones while driving rules to include the use of stored, non-connected (‘standalone mode’ or ‘flight mode’) functions. Presently, it is an office to make phone calls and send text messages whilst driving.

The consultation proposes to:

  • Broaden the offence of using a hand-held mobile phone while driving so that it captures standalone mode functions as well as the existing interactive communication functions;
  • Introduce a new exemption to the using a hand-held mobile phone while driving offence to allow drivers to make contactless payments using a mobile phone at appropriate locations, for example at drive through food outlets.

The changes, if implemented, will need to be reflected in The Highway Code, and the consultation document includes the suggested revised wording.

The consultation document is set out as follows:

  • Chapter one sets out the problems that have arisen since the mobile phone offence was initially enacted in 2003. The main problem is that the offence is restricted to functions involving interactive communication and does not capture the range of standalone functions that drivers can now perform using a hand-held mobile phone. It also sets out how the Government intends to be clearer in law about the types of devices that are covered by the offence.
  • Chapter two deals with a proposed new exemption from the offence of using a hand-held mobile phone while driving. It explains that the Government does not wish to thwart technological advances and wants to make provision for them where it is safe and sensible to do so. Against this background the document proposes an exemption for drivers who make a contactless payment for goods or services that they receive immediately, for example at a drive-through restaurant.
  • Chapter three proposes amending the advice in the Highway Code about using mobile phones while driving. It sets out a revised Rule 149 which takes account of the proposed change to the law described in Chapters one and two.

The closing date for comments is 17 January 2021.

Click here for the document.

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Peter Rimmer
Peter Rimmer
3 years ago

Why has it taken so long to make this change? Because politicians simply have no awareness of risk and care little about the health, safety and wellbeing of citizens.

Joe Bloggs
Joe Bloggs
3 years ago

We all know in reality its illegal to phone whilst at the wheel. This is where Churchill’s quote “If you have 10,000 regulations you lose all respect for the law” comes to mind. People know it’s wrong, don’t legislate for any tiny thing just for the sake of wasting paper. Anyone presenting a danger to other road users can have the book thrown at them already.

3 years ago
Reply to  Joe Bloggs

but if they dont then lawers get them off the hook, this is closing a loophole

Dave Rodger
Dave Rodger
3 years ago

With the advancement of technology since the introduction of the law back in 2003 its a loop hole that defiantly needs closing, yes we all know its wrong but that does not stop the countless number of people I encounter in a day either holding their phone to their ear or secretively using their phones on their laps whilst driving.
Just ban and fine everyone that is found to breach these regulations no exceptions, too many people have lost their lives and loved ones already.

3 years ago

If you use your Phone screen they want to fine and put points on your license. However modern cars have for a better term a tablet fitted at manufacture and this isn’t illegal to use and won’t be under these rules either. Question:- whats the difference between using your phone screen to control the music etc or the tablet. Really nothing but as it fitted in the car by the manufacturer you can do everything via the tablet and thats fine by the law. But if you own a older car and USB link or Bluetooth to the radio to… Read more »

Last edited 3 years ago by Paul
Stuart Robertson
Stuart Robertson
3 years ago

There is no traffic police around to manage this endemic behaviour of using phones while driving, we won’t see any government campaign to raise awareness. I challenge IOSH etc to speak with the government of the day to get a strategy on changing behaviour on phone use while driving. My family is victims to an accident that permanently brain damaged my father, it took him 9 years to die from his brain trauma, I did sign the consultation on stricter penalties for driving without due care and attention due to the law back in 2008 not being hard enough on… Read more »

3 years ago

have a look at the australian traffic cameras, they can detect when people are using phones whilst driving. These will be in the UK soon, police wont be needed then to police it