February 28, 2024

Mobile Phone Driving Laws: New Rules Proposed for 2021

Use of Mobile phones whilst driving

UK Government is set to introduce changes to the law concerning the use of mobile phones when behind the wheel of a vehicle.

Whilst it has been an offence in the UK to use a hand-held mobile device when you are driving since 2003, loopholes have been found which meant drivers could escape prosecution if they were using their phone to play music or to take a video.

This meant they would avoid six penalty points on their licence and a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200. The fine could have been as much as £1000 had the case have gone to the Magistrates Court.

What is going to change?

The Government is proposing to change the law so that people who use a hand-held mobile phone while driving, regardless of it being a standalone function or an interactive communication, will face the same punishments.

They see the use of scrolling through a playlist on your phone to find music as having the same physical manipulation and cognitive demands you would use if you were typing out a text message.

These changes will therefore mean the following activities with a phone would be deemed an offense:

  • Illuminating the screen
  • Unlocking the device
  • Checking the time on your phone
  • Checking for any notifications
  • Rejecting a call
  • Composing a text message or email to save in drafts
  • Taking a photo or a video
  • Use the phones camera as a mirror
  • Search for music stored onto your phone
  • Search for photos or other images
  • Dictate voice messages
  • Read a book already downloaded onto the phone
  • Play a game already downloaded onto the phone

Making payments using your phone.

The convenience to pay for goods and services at drive thru windows has grown in popularity over recent years. The Government considers these interactions as a legitimate use of a hand-held mobile phone and has minimal risk if the vehicle is stationary, so are proposing a specific exemption for drivers who make contactless payments.

They would only apply to interactions where good or services are supplied or provided immediately such as:

  • Drive-Thru Restaurants
  • Road Tolls
  • Car Washes

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