The Government will make it illegal to use a hand-held mobile while driving in ‘virtually any circumstances’ to improve road safety from 2022, the Department for Transport revealed. At present, it is typically illegal to send a text message or make a phone call from such a device. The exception is if there is a genuine emergency such as an accident. The ambulance can be called.
However, the law will be strengthened to also clearly make it illegal to take pictures, film, scroll music playlists, or play games on a hand-held phone. The Highway Code will be revised to reflect the changes. Drivers that fall foul will receive a £200 fine and six driving licence penalty points. Among other things, penalty points can considerably raise the cost of motor insurance.
Legal phone use
Motorists will still be permitted to use a hand-held mobile if there is an emergency, from 2022. They will also be allowed – but only while stationary – to make contactless payments by phone if the reader is physically present. Examples include paying road tolls and for food at drive through restaurants. Such exceptions ensure the ‘law keeps pace with technology’, the Government stated.
Drivers will also still be able to use a phone ‘hands-free’ once the law is tightened. It might be held in a windscreen mount and running a sat-nav program, for instance. However, like now motorists will have to ensure they are not distracted. Police will still prosecute anyone who is not ‘in proper control’ of a vehicle.
Government praises new rules
Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, explained why the law will be tightened. ‘Too many deaths and injuries occur while mobile phones are being held’, he warned. ‘By making it easier to prosecute people illegally using their phone at the wheel, we are ensuring the law is brought into the 21st century while further protecting all road users. While our roads remain among the safest in the world, we will continue working to make them safer.’