The law

Using Mobile Phones When Driving

The Law

It’s illegal to ride a motorcycle or drive using hand-held phones or similar devices.

The rules are the same if you’re stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic.

It’s also illegal to use a hand-held phone or similar device when supervising a learner driver or rider.

Penalties for using your phone while driving

You can get an automatic fixed penalty notice if you’re caught using a hand-held phone while driving or riding. You’ll get 3 penalty points on your licence and a fine of £100.

Your case could also go to court and you could be disqualified from driving or riding and get a maximum fine of £1,000. Drivers of buses or goods vehicles could get a maximum fine of £2,500.

New drivers

You’ll lose your licence if you get 6 or more penalty points within 2 years of passing your test.

When you can use a phone in your vehicle

If you’re the driver, you can only use your phone in a vehicle if you:

  • need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop
  • are safely parked

Using hands-free devices when driving

You can use hands-free phones, sat navs and 2-way radios when you’re driving or riding. But if the police think you’re distracted and not in control of your vehicle you could still get stopped and penalised.

Guide For Employers

The new law includes an offence of “causing or permitting” a driver to use a hand-held phone while driving. This will, therefore, apply to employers who will be guilty of an offence if they require or permit their staff who drive for work, to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving.

Employers would be unwise to respond by supplying their staff with hands-free kits. Even if the use of these while driving does not contravene the specific ban on hand-held phones, employers could fall foul of health and safety laws if an investigation determined the use of the phone contributed to an accident.

Recent guidance from the Health and Safety Executive makes it clear that employers have a duty under health and safety law to manage the risks faced by their employees on the road. And one of the biggest risks they face is when using mobile phones while at the wheel. Research clearly shows that using a hands-free phone while driving is just as dangerous as using a hand-held phone – there is little point in having both hands connected to the steering wheel, if the brain is not connected to the hands.

There are good reasons for providing mobile phones to staff who drive for work, especially for lone workers and staff who will be travelling through areas where access to a public phone is difficult. If a member of staff breaks down, for example, they need to be able to summon help. Some employers provide mobile phones for certain staff and others reimburse the cost of work related calls made on private mobile phones.

But, this should not mean that the staff use the phone while driving. As part of the management of work related road safety, employers should provide employees with clear guidance on the use of mobile phones. The use of hand-held or hands-free phones while driving should be prohibited, particularly as there is a simple alternative – let the phone take messages and return calls when stopped in a safe place.

The AA said the new measures introduced on 27th February 2007 ‘paled into significance’ compared with the threat of jail for causing a fatal crash while using a mobile.

 

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