Today marks one year on since tougher penalties for drivers using mobile phones were brought in. The changes saw penalties double from 3 fixed penalty points and a £100 fine, to drivers facing 6 points and a £200 fine if caught using their phones behind the wheel.
According to the RAC Report on Motoring 2017, 23% of drivers admitted to using a handheld mobile at the wheel to make or take a call in the past 12 months, and 18% admitted to checking texts, email or social media.
Road Safety Unit Sergeant Simon Drewett said: “Drivers need to put their safety and the safety of other road users and pedestrians first.
“Even glancing at a phone for 2.3 seconds while driving at 30mph you miss 100ft of road. That is the equivalent to the length of Boeing 737.
“A text or a phone call can, and should, wait until you are safely at your destination. Taking the risk can land you with a £200 fine and 6 penalty points, which if you are in your first two years of driving can result in losing your license, but in reality things could end much more tragically.”
It’s illegal to use a handheld mobile when driving. This includes using your phone to follow a map, read a text or check social media. This applies even if you’re stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic.
It is also illegal to use a handheld phone or similar device when supervising a learner driver.
You can only use a handheld phone if you are safely parked or need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop.
Using a hands free device (e.g. for navigation) is not illegal. However, if this distracts you and affects your ability to drive safely, you can still be prosecuted.
Simon’s advice to drivers is “Put your phone away before you set off so the temptation is removed.
“If you are using hands free devices, please do so responsibly and do not allow it to distract you.
“Make sure you don’t call people when they are driving, their attention needs to be on the road.
“We want everyone to get home safely. Please don’t take the risk.”