The Law and Mobile Phones

It has been illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving since December 2003. On the 27th of February 2007 the penalty for using a mobile phone while driving was increased to 3 penalty points coupled with a fixed fine of £60. The law also applies to the use of other electronic devices such as PDAs and personal organisers. If the matter is taken to court, a fine of up to £1,000 on conviction or (£2,500 for drivers of goods vehicles, buses or coaches) can apply.

Latest figures show only 27,000 drivers were prosecuted for using hand-held mobile phones while driving yet the government calculates that of the 10million drivers using UK roads daily; One percent are using mobile phones, in other words 100.000 drivers are breaking the law and putting their life and other road users at risk.

The vast majority of the motoring public complies with the law and is aware of the significant road safety risks of trying to drive and use a mobile phone at the same time. However, Police forces say that there are still a significant number of persistent offenders who use their mobile phones when behind the wheel despite the risk of causing a collision and the implications of getting points on their driving license.

It is illegal to hold a hand-held device to speak, send or receive electronic communication while driving; this includes text and picture messaging.  The law still applies when waiting at traffic lights or stuck in traffic jams.  In other words, if you are behind the wheel of a car with the engine on, in a public highway this legislation applies to you.

RoadDriver believes that a driver needs to apply all their powers of concentration to the task of driving and would discourage the use of any communication while behind the wheel. However, it is legal to communicate on the phone while driving if you have a hands free kit installed in the car. Alternately you can use a Bluetooth earpiece provided your mobile phone is securely cradled on the dashboard or windscreen. To be safe and avoid a mot failure, a windscreen cradle must be positioned so as not obstruct your line of vision.

With a properly installed hands free kit or securely cradled phone, you are allowed to press a button to receive or end a call. You are not allowed to press numerous buttons or text messaging as this is both highly dangerous and illegal. 

The use of a mobile phone by means of a Bluetooth earpiece or a hands free kit while driving can still lead to prosecution; If the police believe you have failed to have proper control of your vehicle under (Regulation 104 of the Road Vehicles Construction and Use Regulations 1986 Amendment No4 Regulations 2003).

If your involved in an accident while on the phone (hands free or not) the police may consider charging you with driving without due care and attention, careless or dangerous driving. The penalties on conviction for such offences include heavy fines, endorsement, disqualification and in serious cases, imprisonment.

You are permitted to use your mobile phone while driving to call 999 in response to a genuine emergency where you cannot stop safely to make a call.

The Law and Mobile Phones - Tips and Advice - Article No 38 RoadDriver 2010

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