Kill the conversation – new legislation
What you need to know about the new mobile phone legislation
Since mobile ‘phones were introduced into the UK during the 1980s they have driven a revolution in how we communicate. Today your mobile will let you talk, text, browse the internet, watch videos, check social media, order shopping, play games, answer e-mails… you get the picture!
All of this is great but use your ‘phone behind the wheel and you are four times more likely to have a crash than if you weren’t being distracted. And that’s the point – using a mobile ‘phone when you’re driving distracts your attention away from the most important task: driving safely.
Driving is a very complex activity that most of us take for granted, but just think back to your very first driving lesson and that feeling of being overwhelmed by all of the different tasks you had to complete at once. Now add answering your ‘phone, checking social media or texting into that mix and you can start to see why there’s a problem.
In fact if you send a text message when driving your eyes will be off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. Doesn’t sound very long but at 70 mph you will have travelled the length of 12 double decker buses!
We put some drivers to the test to see how they coped with driving and using a mobile phone. Watch what happened below…
When you consider the possible devastating consequences of using your ‘phone behind the wheel then your best bet is to turn it off. Yes it’s great to be connected to the world and who knows you may even be reading this on your ‘phone, but whatever you use the ‘phone for it can wait until you’ve finished driving.
Am I breaking the law?
The law says it is illegal to use a hand-held mobile device whilst driving or riding a motorcycle (this doesn’t just mean talking but includes everything we’ve spoken about and also using the ‘phone as a Sat Nav). The only exemption is to call 999 in response to a genuine emergency if it is unsafe or impractical to stop. You cannot use your ‘phone at traffic lights or in stationary traffic.
What are the new penalties?
From 1st March 2017 the penalty for using your mobile ‘phone behind the wheel will be a £200 fixed penalty and 6 points on your driving licence. If you have been driving less than two years you will lose your licence. To get it back you will effectively start the learning process again – apply for a full licence, re-take your theory and then practical driving tests as well as paying the fixed penalty which could all work out to be rather expensive…
What about hands-free equipment?
You can lawfully use hands-free equipment when you’re driving providing that you do not have to hold it in your hand. However, just because you’re not holding the ‘phone it doesn’t mean you’re not being distracted by the conversation! Indeed recent research shows that using a ‘phone hands-free can be as distracting as driving at the drink-drive limit. If the Police believe that you are distracted by your hands-free device you may be prosecuted for careless or, in extreme cases, even dangerous driving. Our advice – wait until you’re safely parked!
So knowing how important your ‘phone is, what can you do to stop it from distracting you on your journey?
- If you need to call someone or check an e-mail give yourself a couple of minutes to do that before you get in the car
- Turn the phone onto silent or, better still, turn it off and put it away in the glove compartment or boot to stop you being tempted to look at it.
Just a few small simple things that add up to a big change to keep you, your passengers and other road users safe on the road.