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You'll soon be fined for touching your phone while driving

Published 01 November 2019

The Government has announced plans to close a loophole which allows drivers to use their phones to take pictures or browse the internet when behind the wheel.

Currently, motorists can be given an on-the-spot fine of £200 and six penalty points if they're caught using a hand-held phone while driving. However, drivers have successfully appealed that the laws - introduced in 2003 - shouldn't apply if the phone isn't being used to communicate.

>>Illegal mobile phone use when driving on the rise

Ramsey Barreto was found guilty earlier this year of using his phone to film a crash while driving in North London. He later won an appeal after his solicitors argued that he wasn't using the device to communicate.

Now the Government is planning to close this loophole, meaning you could be hit with a fine for using a smartphone while driving - including browsing music playlists, using navigation apps or taking pictures.

"We recognise that staying in touch with the world while travelling is an essential part of modern day life but we are also committed to making our roads safe," said transport secretary Grant Shapps.

"Drivers who use a hand-held mobile phone are hindering their ability to spot hazards and react in time – putting people’s lives at risk."

A review on mobile phone laws is being pushed forward with further proposals expected to be in place by next spring, making the offence clearer for drivers and police forces.

While the current penalties for hand-held mobile phone use are being considered, the Department for Transport says there are no plans to ban hands-free phone use.

Comments

Palcouk    on 1 November 2019

What they really mean, once GP's spin is taken out is that the law was written by grey men in grey suites who's only experience of modern Tech was when their Sec sat on their knee
Sarcy I know, but that what I feel when I listen to a politician (of any party)

Engineer Andy    on 2 November 2019

I wonder if these idiot 'law-makers' have bothered to see if there's any difference safety-wise between operating the radio controls or in-built satnav in a car via a touchscreen or otherwise vs doing the same via a cradle-mounted mobile phone or dedicated satnav unit? Or have they, as usual, forgotten about that?

Edited by Engineer Andy on 03/11/2019 at 19:48

Christopher Johns    on 4 November 2019

Well Andy, if these 'idiot' law makers have so bothered, they will know that there are differences between

operating a radio (press the 'On' button, press a button for a different station if desired, turn the volume knob down if necessary/desired),

and

operating a Sat-Nav for instance,

or

initiating a phone call.

So we can all be pleased that they are making things safer, protecting the non-idiots from the idiots on the road, and looking forward to the day when they also make it an offence to try and program a journey on a touch-screen SatNav while 'driving'.

Engineer Andy    on 6 November 2019

Well Andy, if these 'idiot' law makers have so bothered, they will know that there are differences between

operating a radio (press the 'On' button, press a button for a different station if desired, turn the volume knob down if necessary/desired),

and

operating a Sat-Nav for instance,

or

initiating a phone call.

So we can all be pleased that they are making things safer, protecting the non-idiots from the idiots on the road, and looking forward to the day when they also make it an offence to try and program a journey on a touch-screen SatNav while 'driving'.

I wonder how they can tell the difference between using the touchscreen satnav and touchscreen volume control etc on cars like a current Honda Civic?

Surely this should all be subjective - if the driver's gaze and attention wanders for more than a fraction of a moment on a dangerous (i.e. not empty and in good light/road conditions), then they are driving without due care and attention. Sure no need for the law to be any more specific than that, as it would have to be changed as each new bit of tech is invented.

BEARS8    on 4 November 2019

Agree totally that using 'hands-free' is just as hazardous.
It's the distraction factor that matters as much as the juggling to hold a phone.
A chief exec where I once worked, so often said ' we can discuss this when I am in the car' (she was driving herself). Frequently this was a poilcy matter that needed concentration for decisions or negotiation - and indeed she did have a few (if minor) mishaps as a result - but they could have been worse!

Telegram Sam    on 4 November 2019

I agree with the comparison with myself fiddling around with radio etc controls particularly at night. The problem is that 2 wrongs don't make a right and somewhere someone has got to draw a common sense line. Using a mobile whilst watching the rear end of a stationary HGV in a traffic jam is harmless enough, doing the same at speed is asking for it.

Edited by Avant on 06/11/2019 at 17:40

Victor Ahiaba    on 5 November 2019

"Two blacks don't make a white", what's that?

(Edit: I think he meant 'two wrongs don't make a right' and I have altered his post to say so.

Avant - moderator)

Edited by Avant on 06/11/2019 at 17:41

Christopher Johns    on 4 November 2019

If it takes 'men in grey suits' (or GPs?!) to spot the dangers, so be it. (But I'm sure a lady in a grey suit could do just as well).

It appears the MOT test needs to be augmented with an 'Attitude' test.

r pitchford    on 4 November 2019

the police will have to stop useing their radios as well there the same as mobiles

Paul Jenkinz    on 4 November 2019

so that means the police cant mess with their anpr button while driving then

soldierboy 001    on 5 November 2019

I think you will find that ANPR is only operated when stationary or double manned by the person on the passenger seat

Steve Crane    on 4 November 2019

Why is talking on a handsfree phone more distracting than talking to a passenger?

Keith Moat    on 4 November 2019

Possibly because a passenger would be looking at the road along with the driver ?

GingerTom    on 5 November 2019

It's psychological. If the passenger speaks to you and you don't immediately answer they know it's because you are prioritising driving. When you are on the phone you cannot have periods of quiet because the other person cannot see what's going on and so cannot deal with it in the same way. For this reason the driver prioritises the conversation over the driving. Hence it's more dangerous.

Christopher Johns    on 5 November 2019

If you are on the landline at home and someone in the house comes up to you and starts talking, to you who do you tell to shut up?

Christopher Johns    on 5 November 2019

Have you 'got it' now, Steve?

Model Flyer    on 4 November 2019

Idiot government !!! Who is going going to enforce it ??? Perhaps some of the thousands of extra police Boris has promised . Why am I not convinced , Here in the southeast (kent) virtually every other driver is using their phones and dont give a toss , Why because no police to enforce the current law .

Christopher Johns    on 5 November 2019

At least if you kill someone while being distracted by your 'phone you could be prosecuted and if someone has seen you usuing the phone, hopefully you could be banged up for a few years/decades to save a few more people from being thus killed.

aethelwulf    on 4 November 2019

Unenforceable laws are ignored and so lose credibility. I was always amazed that someone could be fined for eating an apple but not for smoking a pipe! There is a lot more concentration going into filling, tamping down, lighting and then firming your tobacco than eating an apple. But the law of often as ass.I would ban everything including taking your hands off the steering wheel. in that case the vehicular would automatically slow right down- just like a locomotive has a 'dead man's plate'.
Sell more auto cars of course but everyone would get used to it and it would reduce accidents.

Jonathan Sankey    on 4 November 2019



Keith Moat    on 4 November 2019

I don't know why they keep adding new laws when a perfectly good one exists, driving without due care and attention covers most things.

Christopher Johns    on 5 November 2019

Maybe the penalties for 'Driving without due care and attention' are not serious enough to adequately detain drivers who are SO irresponsible as to fiddle with (e.g. hand-held) telephones while 'driving'? But I have a nagging doubt that the Police do not keep an eye out for this existing crime.

Paul Chapman    on 4 November 2019

Just to say that I have a Citroen Picasso, where to adjust the heating you have to switch screens from satnav or whatever, then hold your finger for several seconds on each side, driver and passenger, in turn to simply turn the temperature down or the fan on.

This is very distracting and should be illegal. Possibly as distracting and dangerous as using a phone?

No other manufacturer uses this stupid system..they use a "knob"!!!!

Christopher Johns    on 5 November 2019

The Ford Fiesta (Titanium - one without Navigation or Parking sensors) must come close to the Citroen Picasso for distraction owing to a lack of intutivie knobs and over-reliance on the screen. Who 'designs' these cars? It should not be allowed. But then there are many things about 'modern' cars that should not be allowed - like the over-use of razor-sharp, over-bright LED lighting instead of the much more sensible and ergonomic diffuse tungsten filament lamp. Driving at night has become an unsettling experience. Its not that much better on a dull day either.

What Government Agency should we complain to? (and EU?). I doubt he average MP will take this uo at the moment.

Howard Millichap    on 5 November 2019

There's a move towards "decluttering" the interiors of cars. The unintended consequence is that everything is on a screen which you have touch more often than if you could just go straight to a button for the function you want. Stupidity in progress.

soldierboy 001    on 5 November 2019

This law has been in force in Spain for a long time, but when are they going to make a law that says that controls for operating things like air con and other accessories can not be operated from electronic panels or screen menus. This is a bigger distraction than most other things whilst driving.

Christopher Johns    on 5 November 2019

Totally Agree. There are MANY cars on the UK roads (and elsewhere?) that should have been banned.

Andrew Greening    on 5 November 2019

Anything which takes your eyes off the road when you are driving makes YOU a Hazard to others.
Mobile phones are the worst as these require more concentration than any other electrical device and therefore less concentration on the road.
Sitting in the cab of a truck you see so called vigilant Motorists going along texting with the phone in their lap and therefore having to look down to see what they are doing instead of looking ahead and therefore becoimng a major hazard to anyone else.
You can tell these people as their cars drift from one part of the road to the other as they make their self important messages whilst putting others at risk.
Driving alone these days is bad enough on any of our roads without these selfish dimwits adding to the mix.

Christopher Johns    on 5 November 2019

Thank you Andrew for giving your observations from a truck cab driver perspective. I am ASHAMED that there are people in this country who are more concerned about being able to make phone calls while driving (instead of pulling in to make/receive the call) than discharging their responsibilities for the SAFETY of other road users (and pedestrians).

GingerTom    on 5 November 2019

And yet manufacturers continue to produce cars where screens are replacing physical buttons and switches. Users of these cars have admitted that they have to take their eyes off the road for longer to use them. The Tesla is a glaring example of this. It will only become safer when adjustment of these screens are disabled when the vehicle is moving.

Christopher Johns    on 5 November 2019

Exactly. How can we persuade the Powers That Be to tell all manufacturers that after a certain date, vehicles that are so badly 'designed' as these will not get a certifcate of road-worthiness design and that that will mean they cannot be made, leave alone sold. Maybe the UK has (again) to lead on this. Yes, it would penalise temporaily, in a mild way the sale of UK made vehicles, but once the safety message has got across that could lead to us overtaking other countries that continue to produce these dangerous vehicles. .

Howard Millichap    on 5 November 2019

With things like "Alexa" and "Siri" etc., it's about time Car makes incorporated voice commands into their vehicles. "Alexa, set the temperature to 20C". In my 2013 Freelander2, can already get my phone to dial a number by voice command if I wanted to. So it can't be too difficult.

Edited by Howard Millichap on 05/11/2019 at 13:27

Christopher Johns    on 5 November 2019

The more complicated you make any a system, the more likely it is to fail / not work in the way the user intended. That includes adding Voice 'recognition' onto an engioneering chain. .

R L Nunn    on 5 November 2019

It may sound crazy but when I was a cabby I had no problems driving whilst using a hand mike for the radio, talking to passengers, or changing radio stations yet a mobile phone was more distracting than anything else. I had a mobile installed in the cab (with an old fashioned telephone handset) and yet trying to answer that and drive was really bad so I stopped using the phone all together.

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