Stricter laws on using a phone while driving to be introduced from 25 March with motorists facing £200 fines and six points if caught
- Tough new laws will make phone use while driving illegal in almost all instances
- Touching the screen to scroll a music playlist, browse the internet, take a photograph or play a mobile game will all no be covered under the ban
- The stringent rules will also apply when stopped at a red light or stuck in traffic
- Exemptions made only for 999 calls and contactless payments at drive-thrus
Stricter rules for the use of mobile phones and other interactive devices behind the wheel will be introduced from 25 March, it has been confirmed today.
The new changes to the law will see motorists fined £200 and receive six points on their licence if they so much as touch their devices while driving.
Touching the screen to scroll a music playlist, browse the internet, take a photograph or play a mobile game will all be covered by the ban, with exceptions only to make calls to emergency services and to use contactless payments at drive-thrus and to pay tolls.
The stringent rules will also apply when stopped at a red light or stuck in traffic.
The AA’s Edmund King described the tougher rules from 25 March as ‘a much needed upgrade of the law to help make our roads safer’.
Stricter laws on using a phone while driving to be introduced from 25 March: Motorists to face £200 fines and six points if caught using their device in almost all circumstances from next month
Drivers will still legally be allowed to use their phones as sat-navs, though only as long as they are secured in a holder. Hands-free calls are also still permitted.
However, motorists performing one of these actions could still be prosecuted if the police find them not in proper control of their vehicle.
Ministers have been pushing to make changes to these laws to close a loophole that has allowed motorists to escape punishment for using devices while at the wheel if they were using it not for ‘interactive communications’.
This includes the recent high-profile case of new Everton manager, Frank Lampard, who avoided prosecution last month having been caught on camera holding his phone while driving his Mercedes G-Wagon through London.
Drivers from 25 March to face £200 fines and penalty points for using their phone for any of the following
– illuminating the screen
– checking the time
– checking notifications
– unlocking the device
– making, receiving, or rejecting a telephone or internet based call
– sending, receiving or uploading oral or written content
– sending, receiving or uploading a photo or video
– utilising camera, video, or sound recording functionality
– drafting any text
– accessing any stored data such as documents, books, audio files, photos, videos, films, playlists, notes or messages
– accessing an application
– accessing the internet
Following parliamentary approval received today, changes to the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 will outlaw using a phone for any of the following purposes from 25 March: illuminating the screen; checking the time; checking notifications; unlocking the device; making, receiving, or rejecting a telephone or internet based call; sending, receiving or uploading oral or written content; sending, receiving or uploading a photo or video; utilising camera, video, or sound recording functionality; drafting any text; accessing any stored data such as documents, books, audio files, photos, videos, films, playlists, notes or messages; accessing an application; and accessing the internet.
Commenting on the introduction of the new rules, Edmund King, AA president, said: ‘The AA has long campaigned to toughen up these rules, and we welcome this announcement.
‘This is a much needed upgrade of the law to help make our roads safer.
‘Mobile phones offer many distractions and this sends a clear message that picking them up to use them will not be tolerated. The law will also become tougher as the use of smartwatches, tablets and laptops behind the wheel will apply.
‘Drivers will be extremely limited on when they can pick up their phone, mainly to call the emergency services when there was no opportunity to safely pull over and to make contactless payments at drive-thrus.
‘Being sat in a traffic jam or waiting at the lights is not an excuse, we want people to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road.’
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps previously said the changes would make it easier to prosecute drivers who ignore the rules. ‘Too many deaths and injuries occur whilst mobile phones are being held,’ he said
Announcing the plans to make changes to laws around phone use at the wheel last year, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the changes would make it easier to prosecute drivers who use devices at the wheel.
‘Too many deaths and injuries occur whilst mobile phones are being held,’ he said.
‘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.’