Mobile Phone Driving

The Law, The Facts
In a new regulation that came into force on 1st December 2003, it is a specific offence to use a hand-held phone, when driving a car or any other vehicle.

NOTE: The law also applies to other devices for sending or receiving data if they are held while driving (i.e. Personal Digital Assistants, Tablets, PDA’s). Also you can only use a hands-free phone while driving if it can be operated without holding the phone. Therefore mobile phones should be placed in cradles which are attached to the dashboard. Pushing buttons is permissible.

The penalties for driving carelessly or dangerously when using any phone can include disqualification, a large fine and up to two years imprisonment. Drivers also still risk prosecution (for failure to have proper control) if they use hands-free phones when driving. The penalties will be the same as for using a hand-held phone. If a motorist decides to take the matter to court the maximum fine is £1000. To clarify, you may not use your mobile phone:

• When you are stopped at traffic lights
• When you are queuing in traffic
• To receive calls, pictures, text messages or to access the Internet
• If you are an employer, you can be prosecuted if you require employees to make or receive calls while driving

Research conducted over the past 10 years has proved that using a mobile phone while driving distracts the driver from concentrating on the road ahead. Although there are benefits to carrying a mobile phone or PDA in your car, you cannot help but be distracted by a phone call or text message. If you are distracted, you will not register hazards or react quickly. A conversation on a hands-free phone is no less distracting than using a hand-held one.

Driving Licence Penalty Points
It is illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone when driving and the penalties are going up. From 27 February 2007 you will receive a £60 fine and three penalty points on your licence. You don’t have to be caught many times to be disqualified. If you get just six points in the first two years after passing your test, you will lose your licence under the New Drivers Act.

Exceptions to the Law
• You may call 999 or 112 in response to a genuine emergency when it is unsafe or impractical to stop to call.
• Two-way radios are not covered by this offence.

Insurance Claim Implications
if you are caught using a mobile phone when driving, in theory, an insurance company could refuse to pay for damage to your own car if you were breaking the law at the time of the accident (i.e. going through red lights, using mobile telephone).

Effects on Motor Insurance Premiums
Acquiring points on your licence will nearly always mean higher motor insurance premiums. Other effects if you have an accident could include loss of no claim bonus which would result in an insurance premium increase by at least 50 per cent!