Government imposes new rules on phone usage

The government has announced that it is tightening the rules around mobile phone usage while driving.

From next year, anyone caught using the devices to film, take videos, scroll through playlists and play games will automatically receive a £200 fine and six points on their license.

Exemptions will apply to allow drivers to use their phones to make contactless payments – at restaurants and tolls – when stationary. Drivers also be allowed to use a phone as a sat-nav device if it is secured in a cradle.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “Too many deaths and injuries occur while mobile phones are being held. By making it easier to prosecute people illegally using their phone at the wheel, we are ensuring the law is brought into the 21st century while further protecting all road users.

“While our roads remain among the safest in the world, we will continue working tirelessly to make them safer, including through our award-winning Think! campaign, which challenges social norms among high-risk drivers.”

The revisions will be written into the Highway Code, stating that even being stopped in traffic still counts as driving.

Jim Holder, editorial director, What Car?, said: “Unfortunately, mobile phone use behind the wheel is a common sight on UK roads, and last year saw more than 2000 accidents occur due to distracted driving. As cars become more connected and mobile phones more than just means of calling or text messaging, their use behind the wheel has also changed. We welcome the new legislation to help curb phone use when driving, but it is far from solving the problem.

“Many new models allow drivers to synchronise their phone to the infotainment system and access a variety of applications through a fixed touchscreen – just as they would on their smartphone. So while the phone itself is neatly tucked away, the potential for it to distract drivers is still present. As such, it is important that scrutiny of the latest technology does not end here.”