Mobile phone loopholes to be CLOSED. No playlist scrolling. No photos. Full stop!
The government has confirmed it is looking to get rid of a legal loophole which allows drivers to escape prosecution for using their mobile phone behind the wheel.
It is already an offence to use a phone while driving without a hands-free device. However, the government wants to ensure the law reflects ALL devices that could prove to be a distraction for drivers.
The revised legislation will mean any driver caught texting, taking photos, browsing the internet or scrolling through a playlist while behind the wheel will be prosecuted for using a hand-held mobile phone while driving.
At present, the law prevents drivers from using a hand-held mobile phone to call or text. However, people caught filming or taking photos while driving have escaped punishment as lawyers have successfully argued this activity does not fit into the ‘interactive communication’ currently outlawed by the legislation.
This new legislation will close these loopholes.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps has said that it is a matter of urgency, and will take forward a review to tighten up existing laws further to bring the law into the 21st century.
Shapps commented: “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. 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.”
The impacts of this behaviour are proven – if a driver looks at their phone for just two seconds when travelling at 30 miles per hour, whether to reply to a message or send a quick snap, they will travel 100 feet blind, drastically increasing the chance of accidents.
Nick Lloyd, head of road safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said: “Drivers who use their phones are up to four times more likely to crash, RoSPA highlighted this loop hole in the summer and is delighted that such prompt action is being taken to ensure that all hand-held mobile phone use is to be prohibited, making our roads safer for all.”
The review will be urgently taken forward with further proposals expected to be in place by next Spring - making the offence clearer for drivers and police forces.
Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, lead for roads policing at the National Police Chiefs Council, said: “Technology has moved on since the original offence was introduced and it’s important to ensure any distraction to a driver is kept to an absolute minimum to keep all road users as safe as possible.”
It follows the 2017 introduction of harsher penalties for those caught dialling and driving – offenders are now liable to pay a £200 fine and will have their licences endorsed with six penalty points.