New laws on cell phone use while driving

Sponsored Feature | Nathan Taylor-Allkins, attorneys for Woodfines

Nathan Taylor-Allkins, attorneys for Woodfines (56046429)

An important step to improve road safety and crack down on mobile phone use while driving was implemented on March 25. In short, the police will no longer be required to prove that a mobile phone was used while driving to perform an ‘interactive communication function’.

Instead, the law has been updated to cover almost all portable uses of a mobile phone while driving and will include the following:

  • illuminate the screen
  • check the time
  • verification of notifications
  • device unlock
  • make, receive or reject a phone or internet call
  • send, receive or upload oral or written content
  • send, receive or download a photo or video
  • using camera, video or sound recording functionality
  • write any text
  • access all stored data such as documents, books, audio files, photos, videos, movies, playlists, notes or messages
  • access an application
  • access the Internet.

The police will still have to prove that the mobile phone was used while driving, but we expect to see a significant increase in stops and police checks. It is also important to note that the law has been tightened further and the use of other interactive devices such as smartwatches will also apply.

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New laws have been put in place to curb cell phone use while driving.

Will drivers still be able to use a mobile phone in “hands-free” mode?

Yes, this will be permitted and will include its use as a sat nav, which many of us do on a daily basis. However, the mobile phone must be properly fixed to the dashboard in a suitable support. It will be an offense for drivers to use a phone as GPS while the phone is in their lap, in the passenger seat or propped up elsewhere.

Are there any exemptions?

It has been recognized that many road users use their mobile phone as a method of payment in drive-thru services, for example, and the updated regulation includes a new exemption where a phone or other interactive communication device is used to make a contactless call. payment at a contactless payment terminal. However, the payment must relate to “a good or service received at the same time as the contactless payment or after it” and the vehicle must be stationary.

Drivers will continue to be allowed to make an emergency call if it is unsafe to stop to do so.

What are the implications for a driver caught using a mobile phone?

Drivers caught in the act will continue to receive six points on their driving license and a fixed £200 fine. Two offenses in three years would therefore result in a cumulative driving ban for a period of at least six months and, above all, the threat remains for drivers in the first two years after passing their exam who would risk having their license revoked. if they receive six penalty points within that time.

As far as the transport industry is concerned, professional drivers should be under no illusions that a mobile phone violation while driving will most likely lead to a driver conduct hearing, as repeated violations may lead to a spotlight on the operator, which could lead to a public inquiry and possible dismissal.

It is strongly recommended that all companies update their mobile phone policies and driver’s manuals to reflect these changes and ensure that all drivers are aware of what is expected of them.

Our transport team provides specialist advice and representation to commercial and private drivers. If you find yourself facing charges for a traffic violation, or if you need a review of your Owner’s Manual, contact a member of the team at [email protected] or on 0344 967 2505.

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