Were you aware that as of the 1st of March 2017, the penalties changed for being caught using or holding your mobile phone whilst driving?
Using a mobile phone whilst driving has been illegal since 2003 however the penalties have increased significantly meaning if you are caught using or even touching your mobile phone whilst the engine is running you are in for a rude awakening, 6 points on your licence and a £200 fine!
Drivers using mobile phone including hands free devices are slower at recognising and reacting to oncoming hazards. New research shows you are four times more likely to be involved in an accident if you use your phone when driving. Your reaction time is two times slower if you text and drive than if you drink and drive and this increases to three times more likely if using a handheld phone.
What does the law say?
It’s illegal to use a handheld mobile when driving and includes using your phone to follow a map, read a text or check social media. It also applies even if you’re stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic.
It is also illegal to use a handheld phone or similar device when supervising a learner driver.
Once safely parked you can use a handheld phone or need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and its unsafe or impractical to stop.
If you get just 6 points in the first two years after passing your test, you will lose your licence.
Using hands free (e.g. for navigation) is not illegal. However, if this distracts you and affects your ability to drive safely, you can still be prosecuted by the police.
Whether you use your vehicle for work purposes or to drive to and from home each day, you must not use your phone whilst driving. If your car is fitted with an integrated phone connectivity system (Blue Tooth), you must have your phone set up and connected before you drive off. If you don’t have Blue Tooth, you can use a hand free device provided that you refrain from touching your phone whilst driving.
The best advice is to put your phone on silent and in your glove box removing the temptation to check your messages whilst driving. No call is important enough to risk your life and the lives of other road users! Remember don’t call other people when you know they are driving, as it could lead to distraction and temptation.
Just taking your hand off the steering wheel to start or end a call is considered illegal, only systems that can be activated from the steering wheel whilst remaining in full control of the vehicle are considered legally acceptable.
Guidelines for Employers
Employers who are purchasing vehicles for work purposes should consider vehicles that have integrated phone connectivity systems. The changes to mobile phone penalties must be updated in any workplace vehicle policies you have. Ensure you inform your workers that under no circumstances are they to use a hand held phone whilst driving. By following the simple precautions outlined above you and your employees will be safer road users.
For further guidance or general advise please contact us on 01525 851752.