Starting today (25 March 2022) law regarding using your mobile phone while driving in Great Britain changes. We look at the changes with James Hardy, Personal Injury expert at Wosskow Brown and understand how they will affect your everyday life.
Updating the law on using your phone while driving
It had been an offence since 2003 to use a hand-held mobile phone or similar device while driving in Great Britain. It specified using a hand-held device for ‘interactive communication’, meaning calls and messages. The offence carried a minimum penalty of 6 points on your licence and a £200 fine.
Reason for the change
As mobile phones and other hand-held devices have evolved tremendously since 2003, the rule of ‘interactive communication’ just doesn’t cover what it needs to anymore. We can use our smartphones for everything nowadays. From playing music to recording videos and playing games. Technically these reasons were not covered by the previous rules. There have been several real-life cases where people have avoided prosecution due to these loopholes. Even though they were not paying attention to the road. Due to this, the law has been changed to ban other uses while driving.
Disturbing statistics from the Department of Transport show that in 2020, 17 people were killed and 599 were injured in road traffic accidents in the UK, where the driver was using a mobile phone.
The new law will amend Regulation 110 of the Road Vehicles (Construction & Use) Regulations 1986. It will mean the offence will be triggered when a driver holds and uses their handheld phone/device for any reason. The meaning of using a phone will be expanded to include:
- Checking the time
- Looking at notifications
- Lighting up the screen
- Receiving, making or rejecting telephone/internet calls
- Receiving, uploading or sending written or oral content
- Uploading, sending or receiving videos or photos
- Using the camera or sound recording
- Drafting a text
- Accessing or opening stored data (books, documents, audio, videos, photos, playlists, films, messages or notes.
- Accessing the internet
- Using an app
However, there are a couple of exemptions to this. You can use a phone while driving in emergencies. Such as:
- Using the phone to call an emergency service on 112 or 999
- Acting in response to a genuine emergency
- It is unsafe or impractical to cease driving in order to make the call
And contrary to the numerous click-bait news articles that have populated the social channels of various news outlets, you are permitted to hold/use your phone while driving to make a contactless payment at a payment terminal. For instance, at a Drive-thru or paying for a car park. Be aware that your car must be stationary and the item you have paid for must be provided at the same time or after you have made the payment.
Common Sense Changes
We discussed the changes with James Hardy, one of our Personal Injury experts. James went on to say:
“What we are seeing with the changes, is the updating of the law to match current technologies available on mobile devices. Put quite simply, you must not use your mobile device whilst driving a vehicle, whether this is to answer a call or using an app to change music etc.
“Whilst there may be some dramatisation of the rule changes within the various news outlets, it is common sense, as it always has been. You should not use your mobile phone, for any reason, whilst driving.
“We are of course welcome any changes within the law that assists in road safety. It only takes a momentary distraction to cause a serious or fatal injury. We have seen the results and helped many victims of these accidents over the years.”
For more information and access to the relevant legislation, please check out the official UK Parliament website and read about what the changes are and how they will affect you: