Tighter restrictions around using mobile phones whilst driving are among the new driving law coming into effect in 2021.
The Government has decided to crack down on the usage of mobile phones from behind the wheel. Currently, it is only illegal to make and receive calls and texts while behind the wheel.
However there is no law stopping drivers from scrolling through music playlists, taking photos or playing mobile games, as they are not classed as “interactive communication”, which is the definition of the current offence surrounding usage of a mobile phone while driving. The new changes will make the loophole some drivers have used obsolete.
Roads Minister Baroness Vere said: “Our roads are some of the safest in the world, but we want to make sure they’re safer still by bringing the law into the 21st century.
“That’s why we’re looking to strengthen the law to make using a hand-held phone while driving illegal in a wider range of circumstances.
“It’s distracting and dangerous, and for too long risky drivers have been able to escape punishment, but this update will mean those doing the wrong thing will face the full force of the law.”
The change in law would apply across the whole of the UK and is expected to come into effect early next year.
In 2019, there were 637 casualties on Britain’s roads – including 18 deaths and 135 serious injuries – in crashes where a driver using a mobile was a contributory factor.
The punishment for drivers caught breaking the rules on hand-held mobile use are six penalty points and a £200 fine.
The University of Leeds was commissioned by the DfT to analyse mobile use by 52 drivers over a total of 765 journeys.
Some 662 phone interactions were observed, of which only 38 were completely hands-free.
A car being driven at 30mph travels 100 feet in 2.3 seconds, demonstrating how spending a moment to change a song on a playlist or check an app can result in a crash.
National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for Roads Policing, Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, said: “Using a mobile phone while driving is incredibly dangerous and being distracted at the wheel can change lives forever.
“Police will take robust action against those using a hand-held mobile phone illegally and proposals to make the law clearer are welcome.”