As a society, I am sure we can all put our hands up and agree that we have become addicted to our mobile phones! However, these devices are a massive cause of danger when behind the wheel. A split second distraction caused by our beloved devices, such as call, text or Facebook notification whilst we are driving can be deadly and for that reason it is illegal to use a mobile phone whilst driving.
The illegal use of handheld mobile phones when driving is a major threat to road safety. Research shows that using a phone at the wheel affects reaction times in the same way as drink driving.
Despite the increased awareness of the dangers of mobile phones behind the wheel, the laws regarding their use are not always made clear to members of the public, with many of our callers believing it is only speaking on the phone that is prohibited.
With mobile phone offences carrying a hefty 6 points and a £200 fine, they are not something to be treated lightly. For new drivers, one offence alone could revoke your licence, and for those driving for longer than 2 years, 6 points are not only a nasty hit for insurance premiums but could put you well on the way to a totting up disqualification which kicks in upon the accumulation of 12 penalty points within a 3 year period.
To clear things up we have put together some quick guidance as to the dos and don’ts of mobile phone use.
- Avoid ever having your phone in your hand or on your lap whilst driving as this will always put you at risk of being pulled over by the police and charged with an offence. Ultimately, even if you are not in the wrong and can prove this, being pulled over can be inconvenient and time consuming so why risk it?
- Get yourself a dashboard mount for your phone. Place your phone in the cradle before setting off and use the device for its sat-nav function, as a music player or to take calls. As long as these functions do not cause you to be distracted and you do not attempt to operate the device by hand whilst driving then use in this way is not illegal.
- Park up in a safe place if you are running late or need to take an urgent call, but do not do this whilst stuck in traffic or at a red light. Make sure your engine is off and the car is secured before picking up your phone.
- Get yourself an app. Apps such as “LifeSaver” block calls and texts from coming in whilst your vehicle is in motion. If you are likely to shift your attention from the road when you see your phone light up then it might be a good idea to look into downloading something like this.
- Under no circumstances should you pick your phone up or engage with it in any way, including social media use, texting, directions or music while your engine is on or your vehicle is on the road. Using your phone in any one of these ways is illegal.
- Don’t assume you will get away with using your phone if there are no police around. Plainclothes officers are on the lookout and many charges are bought against offenders in this way, further with the rise in dash cam prosecutions there are no end of ways that a mobile phone charge can be bought against an offending driver.
- Don’t assume that police need photographic evidence of the phone use to make a charge stick. A police officer’s witness statement will be sufficient to prosecute an offence.
- Never allow yourself to become distracted by hands-free use of a mobile phone. This itself is not only dangerous but also can give rise to an offence. Although hands-free systems are the safest way to take a call whilst driving they are not without risk. Be cautious of being over reliant on hands-free devices.
If you have been caught using a mobile phone whilst driving and need some advice please contact our specialist motoring solicitors on 0800 046 3066