DRIVERS face huge fines for using their mobile phones while driving.
But what exactly is the law surrounding using your device behind the wheel? We explain.
Can I get fined for looking up where to get petrol on my phone while driving?
In short, yes. Drivers caught using their phones while behind the wheel face fines and points on their licence.
It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, all hand-held mobile activity while driving was made illegal from October 2020.
You can use hands-free phones – as long as you don’t press any buttons – as well as sat navs and two-way radios.
So in theory, you could use voice command to find out where your nearest petrol station is.
But if the police think you’re distracted and not in control of your vehicle, you could still get stopped and penalised.
The law also applies to those riding a motorcycle.
Fines are set at £200, and you will land six penalty points.
This means you will lose your driving licence if you passed your test within the last two years.
You can get three penalty points if you don’t have a full view of the road and traffic ahead, or proper control of the vehicle.
You can also be taken to court where you can be banned from driving or riding, and get a maximum fine of £1,000 (or £2,500 if you’re driving a lorry or bus).
What happens if you look at your phone while driving?
Looking at your phone while driving can be incredibly dangerous.
Even if you don’t touch it, cops can still deem you distracted and therefore not in control of your vehicle.
This could see you stopped and subsequently penalised in the form of a fine and points on your licence.
However, using it as a sat nav for directions should be legal providing it is done safely.
Hands-free access must be possible via a Bluetooth headset, voice command, a dashboard holder or mat, a windscreen mount, or a built-in sav nav.
The device must not block your view of the road and traffic ahead.
Is it illegal to use your phone with the engine running?
The law still applies to you when you’re stopped for whatever reason if you have the engine running.
This includes being stopped at the traffic lights, queuing in traffic and supervising a learner driver.
Hand-held devices can only be used if you are safely parked or if it is an emergency and it is unsafe or impractical to stop.
Is talking on Bluetooth while driving illegal?
No, it is legal to talk using Bluetooth while driving, providing the necessary criteria are met.
This includes a hands-free headset and not needing to touch your phone or mobile device at all.
However, The Highway Code states that even “using hands-free equipment is also likely to distract your attention from the road”.
“It is far safer not to use any telephone while you are driving or riding – find a safe place to stop first or use the voicemail facility and listen to messages later,” it adds.
In August 2019, the House of Commons Transport Select Committee said that hands-free devices carried the same risk of an accident as using a phone at the wheel.
It urged the government to extend the ban on mobile phones while driving to include hands-free devices.
“Any actions that cause you to be distracted while driving are potentially dangerous and should be avoided,” a spokesperson said.