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Mobile phones and driving – what’s the law in the UK?


Whether you’re driving your own vehicle or a vehicle that you’ve rented, it’s very important that you are clear about the law regarding the use of a mobile phone while driving.

It’s illegal to use a hand-held mobile device whilst driving

To make things very clear – it is illegal to use your phone while driving a vehicle or riding a motorcycle, unless you have hands-free access to the phone through the use of a Bluetooth headset, you have voice command enabled and can operate the phone without touching it, or you are using a dashboard holder.

Even if you are using a phone hands-free while driving, you must still be in control of your vehicle at all times – you can be stopped by the police if they think you are distracted by your hands-free phone, and you be prosecuted for not being in full control of your vehicle.

If you think that you can use a mobile when your vehicle is stopped at traffic lights, think again! It is also illegal to use your phone while stopped at traffic lights or when you are queuing in traffic. If you’re not behind the wheel but are supervising a learner driver, it is also illegal to use a mobile.

The only exceptions to using a hand-held mobile while you are in a vehicle are when you are safely parked, or when you need to make an emergency call to 999 or 112 but it is either unsafe or impractical to stop the vehicle.

The punishments for using a mobile were recently doubled

Last May the punishment for using a hand-held phone while driving was significantly increased, with penalty points and fines doubling to 6 penalty points and a £200 fine. New drivers risk having their licence revoked if they accrue 6 points within the first two years of driving.

Since the increase in penalty points hundreds of new drivers have been given automatic bans; in the six months following the new law, figures showed that 290 new UK drivers were disqualified for using a mobile while driving.

Figures released by the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) under the Freedom of Information Act showed that thousands of drivers – 15,752 in total - received six penalty points for using a mobile phone between March and August 2017. Drivers caught using their mobile phone a second time, or who accrue 12 points on their licence, face magistrates’ court, a fine of up to £1,000, and disqualification.

Using a mobile while driving is very dangerous

Research shows very clearly the dangers of using a mobile while driving. A study by the BJM found that drivers using a mobile are four times more likely to be involved in a crash. According to Department for Transport data, in 2016 35 people were killed in accidents where a driver being distracted or impaired by their phone was a contributory factor - and 137 road users were seriously injured in such incidents.

The message could not be clearer: using a mobile while driving is incredibly dangerous, so do not do it! Get into the habit of putting your phone away when driving; storing it safely in the glove compartment is a very good idea. You can also help others stay safe by not calling them while they are driving, and if the other person does answer the phone while they’re behind the wheel you should say you’ll call them back later and hang up.

Here at Mayday we wish you a safe driving experience. For more information on the range of cars and vans we have available for rent, contact us today.