Drivers to be banned from touching mobile phones
The law change will see drivers who use hand-held phones in any way facing £200 fines and possible driving bans.
At the moment, the law prevents drivers from using a hand-held mobile phone to call or text.
However, people caught filming or taking photos while driving have escaped punishment as lawyers have successfully argued this activity does not fit into the “interactive communication” currently outlawed by the legislation.
The Department for Transport is launching a consultation to close this loophole and minimise driver distraction.
Under the proposed legislation it will become illegal for anyone to pick up and use their mobile phone while driving.
However, drivers will still be able to use devices hands-free under the plans. They can also use mobiles to pay for a drive-through takeaway.
Roads minister Baroness Vere said: “Our roads are some of the safest in the world, but we want to make sure they’re safer still by bringing the law into 21st century.
“That’s why we’re looking to strengthen the law to make using a hand-held phone while driving illegal in a wider range of circumstances. It’s distracting and dangerous, and for too long risky drivers have been able to escape punishment, but this update will mean those doing the wrong thing will face the full force of the law.”
Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said: “We welcome the government’s move to improve the law on mobile phone use behind the wheel, ensuring that drivers who are caught taking photos or playing games when driving can be appropriately punished.
“This announcement is timely, with driver distraction an increasing scourge on our roads and a recent report revealing that one in 10 young drivers admit to playing games behind the wheel and a further one in 5 say they participate in video calls.
“When amending the law on phone use when driving, the government must also take the opportunity to prohibit the use of hands-free devices. The current law gives the impression that it is safe to use a mobile phone with a hands-free kit when the evidence is clear that it is not. Banning hands-free devices may be challenging but we urge the government to prioritise the lives of road users and take action now.”