The law governing the use of a mobile phone while driving has been updated and comes into effect today, 25th March 2022.
The use of a mobile phone while driving has been illegal since 2003 however, the legislation only covered a situation in which the mobile device was being used for ‘interactive communication’, such as making a telephone call or sending a text message. The update now covers ‘any device capable of interactive communication, even if that functionality is not enabled at the time’. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Making, receiving, or rejecting a telephone or internet-based call
- Illuminating the screen
- Unlocking the device
- Checking the time or notifications
- Utilising camera or video functions
- Drafting any written content
- Scrolling through playlists
- Accessing any apps, stored data, or the internet.
This also means that if your mobile phone is set to ‘airplane’ or ‘flight’ mode, you could still fall foul of the new laws.
Some existing exemptions remain, such as the use of a mobile phone in a genuine emergency or as a satellite navigation device placed in a dock or cradle. The advancements in mobile phone technology have been reflected in the legislation, as drivers will be exempt if paying for goods or services using contactless payment, such as at a ‘drive-thru’ restaurant or coffee shop, or paying for parking or toll services, provided they are stationary and are receiving the goods immediately.
Despite these exemptions, drivers must always take responsibility for their driving and can still be charged with an offence if the police find you not to be in proper control of your vehicle.
If you are caught using a mobile phone device, you can face up to a £200 penalty and 6 points on your licence. This could lead to a ban if you are caught twice in a three-year period, the effects of which can be far-reaching and impact adversely on your employment, professional and personal life.