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Mobile Phones and Driving: Legislation

By: Jack Claridge - Updated: 4 May 2011 | comments*Discuss
Mobile Phones Driver Legislation Driving

Specific legislation regarding the use of mobile phones in motor vehicles was introduced in December 2003 as an amendment to the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations.

What Does the Legislation Mean?

It is illegal to drive while using a mobile phone and this applies to any handheld device so includes texting, checking messages etc. If you are you are stopped by the police for using a mobile phone whilst driving you'll most probably receive an automatic fixed penalty notice - resulting in three points on your driver’s licence and a fine of £60. If your case goes to court you may receive a driving disqualification and a fine of up to £1000.

Under the New Drivers Act, if you have six or more penalty points within two years of passing your driving test you will lose your licence. You'll have to resit the test after a period of disqualification in order to get your licence back.

Use of Hands Free Kits and Sat Nav Systems

If you are using a hands free kit which means you do not have to pick up your phone to operate it, then that is legal, provided you are in proper control of your vehicle.

Cradling a mobile phone between your neck and shoulder does not constitute hands free and you are liable to the same penalties as you would if you held the phone in your hand.

Using Radios to Communicate

There is an exception to the legislation that allows vehicle drivers to use two way radios to communicate providing the radio does not also double up as a mobile telephone. This allows couriers, ambulance drivers and other emergency service personnel to communicate as well as drivers of private taxi cabs.

When Can You Use a Mobile Phone in Your Car?

If there is a genuine emergency and you need to phone the emergency services (999 or 112) you can do so if it's safe or practicable to stop.

You can use your phone if you are parked up safely (with your handbrake on) - away from danger (never stop on the hard shoulder of the motorway unless it’s an emergency). You can also use a phone if you are the passenger in a car.

General Advice

Although you may think this legislation applies simply to the use of mobile phones it also applies to anything that may distract the driver from controlling the vehicle to his or her best ability. Drinking and eating while driving, or doing anything with your hands that could distract you from controlling your vehicle will result in police action if they spot you in the process.

If you really cannot tear yourself away from your phone, you'll need to purchase a hands free kit. Otherwise simply do not answer your mobile phone for the duration of your journey unless you are prepared to pull over and stop.

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