Driving law change: How to avoid £200 fine and six points as new rule comes into force

UK mobile phone driving laws explained by the RAC

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From March 25, drivers in England, Scotland and Wales will face tougher rules when it comes to using mobile phones and other devices when driving. The new law is coming into force to try and combat rising fatalities that are the result of people using mobile phones and devices when behind the wheel. Drivers caught breaking the rule will face both fines and penalty points. 

In 2020, the Department for Transport reported 17 people were killed on British roads in crashes involving drivers distracted by mobile phones.

A further 114 people were seriously injured and 385 were slightly injured in such collisions.

But with many people now using their devices for everything from music to maps, how can Britons avoid being caught out while driving?

Keith Hawes, director of Nationwide Vehicle Contracts, said: “The changes to mobile phone driving laws are vital to improving the safety of Britain’s roads.

“Drivers must take these rules seriously to help reduce the number of tragic deaths caused by violations.

“As the world evolves, these adaptations to driving laws are important to keep up-to-date with how technology is used by motorists. We hope these penalties are a strong deterrent to drivers who use their mobile phones behind the wheel.

“It is not just mobile devices that drivers should be cautious of. Despite no new rules being enforced on the use of internal infotainment systems, they can be a potential distraction for drivers.

“Touchscreens have become a common addition to modern vehicles, and the more complex they become, the more distracting they can be.

“If you are found to be not properly in control of your vehicle as a result of using dashboard gadgets or hands-free devices you could still be prosecuted.“

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What is the new driving law regarding device use?

Drivers are already banned from using mobile phones and devices while behind the wheel, but new updates to the law will see further stipulations regarding using touch screens.

From March 25, drivers will not be able to handle mobile devices in any way while behind the wheel, even if they are not moving.

This also includes being stationary in traffic, such as at traffic lights or motorway queues.

Drivers will no longer be permitted to touch the device to check the time or notifications, take photos or videos, scroll through playlists, or access any apps or the internet.

Prior to this law, motorists could only be penalised for “interactive communication” using a hand-held device while driving, such as texting or phone calls – other than in an emergency.

However, loopholes in the law did not cover other usages such as the examples listed above.

What is the penalty for using a device while driving?

Nationwide Vehicle Contracts explain that, unless it is to make an emergency call, anyone caught using their hand-held device while driving will face a £200 fixed penalty notice and six points on their licence.

Can I be fined for using my phone to pay at a drive-through or toll road?

According to Mr Hawes, drivers will not be fined when using their phones to pay when at a drive-through restaurant or toll road.

The Department for Transport has confirmed drivers are exempt from fines in these areas as long as their vehicle is stable.

In a statement released last year, the Department for Transport said: “There will be an exemption to the new law for drivers making a contactless payment using their mobile phone while stationary to ensure the law keeps pace with technology.

“This exemption will cover, for example, places like a drive-through restaurant or a road toll, and will only apply when payment is being made with a card reader.

“It will not allow motorists to make general online payments while driving.”

Can I still use a hands-free device or a sat-nav?

Drivers are still allowed to use a device if it is ‘hands-free’ when driving.

This includes ‘hands-free’ calls and the use of your phone as a sat-nav, as long as it is secured in a holder.

However, this means they should not be touching the screen while driving.

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