The law on using a mobile phone while driving changes tomorrow, police have warned.
New laws will come into force from March 1 which will see the penalties for mobile-using motorists double – meaning people can be handed six points on their driving licence and a £200 fine. In more serious cases, police can also prosecute drivers for careless or dangerous driving.
Since 2003 anyone caught using a mobile phone while driving faced a £100 fine and three penalty points.
Motorists will no longer be offered the opportunity to go on a driver awareness course once the new legislation comes into force.
The change in legislation can lead to an automatic ban for young and newly-qualified drivers as they could risk having their licence revoked following a first-time offence.
Police say while it has been illegal to use a mobile phone held in the hand while driving or while stopped with the engine on since December 2003 there has been a worrying shift in attitudes to mobile phone use behind the wheel.
The RAC surveyed 1,714 motorists and 31 percent of them said they used a handheld phone behind the wheel compared with 8 percent in 2014.
Mobiles and driving – what you need to know
Can you use your phone at traffic lights?
No. Even when you’re stationary it’s still classed as driving and you are still in charge of the vehicle so using your phone in traffic or at lights is still an offence.
Can you press buttons on your phone to answer/hang up a call on hands-free?
No. The phone must be secured in a holder out of the 45-degree angle of the driver’s view. You can’t touch it while driving.
Is it OK to answer a call while driving if your phone is on loudspeaker on your knee?
No. It’s still classed as using your phone while driving whether it’s in your hand or not.
Can you use your phone as a sat nav?
Yes – as long as you programme it before you start the car and set off and it’s in a holder out of the 45-degree angle of the driver’s view. You cant re-programme or touch it while in motion, the same rules apply for any sat nav.