New legislation ups the penalty for those who text or call when behind the wheel

From this month (March 2017) new legislation has come into force which means drivers using their phone while driving will receive 6 penalty points and a £200 fine.

This is a new tough stance from the government and highlights how dangerous using a phone while at the wheel is considered to be. The new penalty is double what drivers would previously have received.

It also means that new drivers (those driving for less than two years) will be automatically banned from driving if they are found to be using their phone while at the wheel. They will also have to retake their practical and driving test.

The law has been strengthened to tackle the illegal use of using the phone while driving, which is referred to by the government as one of the ‘fatal four’. Along with driving at an excessive speed; failing to wear a seatbelt and drink driving, using a phone when behind the wheel is an activity which can lead to a fatality on the roads.

Research has shown that you are 4 times more likely to crash if you use a mobile and texting can be more dangerous than if you drink drive.

What you need to know about the law:

  • It is illegal to use a hand held phone or similar device while driving, or riding a motorbike.
  • The rules are the same if you are stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic.
  • It is also illegal to use a hand-held phone or similar device when supervising a learner driver or rider.
  • If you are the driver the only times when you can use a phone in your vehicle are when a) you need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it is unsafe or impractical to stop; b) you are safely parked.
  • It is not illegal to use a hands free phone while driving but any time a driver’s attention is distracted is dangerous so hands free should be used with caution.

Ways to stop yourself from being tempted to use a phone while at the wheel:

  • Put your mobile out of reach as soon you get into the car. A good place to put it is in the glove compartment.
  • Do not answer it if it rings. If you consider the call to be urgent, pull over to a sae place, park the vehicle and then make the call.

To find out more visit our enforcement section.