In an attempt to reduce the number of road accidents and to ensure drivers retain proper control of their vehicles, mobile phone driving laws are set for change in 2022.
Current rules on using a phone while driving
Since 2017, the law has been that it is a criminal offence to text or make phone calls from a handheld device while driving.
The penalty for this offence is a £200 fine and 6 points. In more severe circumstances, if committing this offence has led to something even more serious such as a collision or fatality, there could be a much heavier penalty, including a custodial sentence.
Loopholes in mobile phone driving law
With current law only relating to texting and phone calls, other uses of mobile phones while driving have illuminated loopholes in this law. While a loophole could mean the difference between being charged with a driving offence or not, the reality is that the distraction is still there, no matter how you are using a phone while driving.
With Snapchat, TikTok and other photo and video sharing platforms becoming extremely more prevalent since the law was last changed in 2017, there becomes much more temptation to take pictures or videos at the wheel. Whether stationary at lights or in motion, the distraction takes focus away from the road. Cues to move may be missed, or control of the wheel may be lost, which could lead to collisions with other vehicles, cyclists or pedestrians.
The updated mobile phone driving law for 2022
Encompassing the mobile phone uses that are at present not explicit in the law, the use of handheld devices to play games or scroll through music, as well as taking photos or videos, will soon all become criminal offences. Quick scroll through Twitter when stuck in traffic? Think again.
Whatever the nature of the notification sound or screen light-up that encourages someone to take their eyes off the road, it all counts as a distraction. Whether for a split second or longer, circumstances on roads of all kinds can change very quickly and it is paramount that all drivers and road users remain alert at all times.
You can use your mobile phone when parked up in a safe place. This means an actual parking space and not just in stationary traffic.
One important exception to the rule is that you can still use your phone while driving if it is a legitimate emergency and you need to contact the emergency services on 999 or 112.
Hands-free and Sat-Nav Devices
If your vehicle is fitted with a built-in Sat-Nav or you can connect your device so it’s hands-free, you will not be punished for using these while driving under this legislation. However you could be charged with other offences such as of failing to maintain proper control of a vehicle, careless or even dangerous driving.
Drivers should be aware that although some built-in screens are great for mapping, answering calls and the like, the capability to scroll through music and playlists could still warrant a distraction. If driving with another individual, ask them to find a specific song or text someone back for you. If you’re alone, just skip the current song or make a queue before you set off, and if the person texting you really needs to get in touch quickly, they’ll most likely call you.
Looking for advice
If you are facing charges of using your mobile phone while driving, or if you have been involved in an accident due to unsafe driving, our crime or personal injury teams can help respectively.
Contact us on 0161 969 3131.