The government has announced that tightening rules on using a mobile phone while driving will come into force on March 25.
In November 2021, it was confirmed that the government was working to close loopholes that meant drivers could get away with using mobile devices behind the wheel in certain instances, but tough new laws will bring that to a stop.
Previous loopholes included using a phone to change a music playlist or take a photo while driving, but both of these will now no longer be allowed from March 25. The only accepted uses of using a phone while behind the wheel will be to call the emergency services, or if using the device as a payment method at a drive-thru or toll booth, for example. The rules apply even when the car is stationary.
Hands-free calls will remain permitted, while drivers will be able to use their phones as a satellite navigation system, though only if it’s placed in a holder, not obscuring the driver’s view (or causing a distraction) and if it’s left alone for the duration of a journey.
Drivers also face one of the toughest motoring punishments if caught using a mobile phone behind the wheel, risking a £200 fine and six points on their driving licence. It means that if a motorist was caught twice with their phone, they could have their licence taken from them.
The announcement has unsurprisingly been welcomed by many motoring groups. Simon Wiliams, road safety spokesman at the RAC, said: “As our phones have become more sophisticated, the law has not kept pace and this has allowed some drivers who have been using their handheld phones for purposes other than communicating to exploit a loophole and avoid the maximum penalty.
“Our research suggests that more than one-in-10 younger drivers admit to taking a photo or video while driving, while 6% say they have played a game.
“While today’s announcement is clearly good news, it’s absolutely vital that the new law is vigorously enforced otherwise there’s a risk that it won’t deliver the sort of behaviour change that will make our roads safer.”