Laws regarding the use of mobile phones by drivers are being ramped up as from today (1 March) as a reaction to rising numbers of drivers making calls, texting, and programming sat navs whilst on the move.
With immediate effect, the penalties have been increased to a £200 fine and six penalty points on your driving licence, with no get-out option of an awareness course on offer. Six points is halfway to a driving ban. If you accumulate 12 points within a three-year period a driving ban is likely unless there are extenuating circumstances.
For newly-qualified drivers the impact is even more severe, as under existing legislation those who have held a full licence for less than two years will automatically lose that licence if they receive six points. Furthermore, it will be necessary to re-take a driving test, with all that that entails in terms of expense and inconvenience, before getting back on the road.
The law clearly states that you may not use a hand held phone to make or receive calls or texts whilst driving, even when not moving. Neither must you watch video casts or adjust the sat nav, even if the phone is mounted in a cradle. If you pull over, assuming it is safe to do so, you can check your phone providing the vehicle engine is switched off.
You can still use your phone for calls providing it is hands-free enabled, and you can use your phone’s sat nav facility providing it is mounted in a hands free cradle. However, if you are involved in an accident and the police can prove you were distracted by a device you will be prosecuted. Remember, phone records will provide the evidence that it was in use. They are out to get you one way or the other!
The authorities are concerned that mobile use by drivers has seen an increase and a spate of serious fatal accidents attributed to phone use has led to the new campaign, in which police forces are mounting a seven-day crackdown backed by a hard-hitting advertising campaign. In 2015, 22 people died and 99 were seriously injured in accidents involving drivers using mobile phones.