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New Mobile Phone Use Whilst Driving Rules Come Into Force

Apr 4, 2022

New mobile phone rules when driving came into force on the 25th March. We review what the changes are, the penalties for being caught using a mobile phone whilst driving and what actions your business needs to take because of the changes.

What are the mobile phone rules when driving 2022?

The new laws introduced on the 25th March now make it illegal to hold and use a phone, sat nav, tablet, or any device that can send or receive data, while driving or riding a motorcycle.

For clarity this means that you must not use a mobile device in your hand for any reason. An offence will be triggered if you are caught with a mobile device in your hand.

This is not an exhaustive list, but the laws will cover actions such as

  • illuminating the screen of your mobile
  • checking the time or notifications
  • accessing an app
  • sending, receiving, or uploading a photo or video
  • holding and using a device that’s offline or in-flight mode

The law still applies to you if you’re stopped at traffic lights, queuing in traffic or driving a car that turns off the engine when you stop moving

You must also not use a mobile device in your hand at any point when you are supervising a learner driver as you must always maintain full concentration.

Why have the mobile phone use when driving laws been updated?

Previous laws introduced in 2003 had meant it was an offence to use a handheld mobile device or similar handheld device to engage in ‘interactive communication’ – e.g., phone calls, messaging or accessing the internet. But it was felt that the laws needed to be updated to keep up with mobile technology and the scope of what they can now be used for. Find full justification and reasoning behind the law changes in this article produced by the House of Commons library

What are the penalties for breaking mobile phone use laws?

If you are caught holding a mobile device, you can receive

  • 6 penalty points and
  • a £200 fine

If you passed your driving test in the last 2 years you will also lose your licence due to receiving 6 points.

Depending on the severity of the offence you can also be taken to court and may be banned from driving or face a fine of up to £1,000 or £2,500 if you are driving a lorry or bus.

Are there any exemptions to these rules?

There will be several exemptions to these laws, and you can use a mobile device in your hand in the following circumstances

  • you need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop
  • you’re safely parked (this will include having your engine switched off)
  • you’re making a contactless payment in a vehicle that is not moving, for example at a drive-through restaurant
  • you’re using the device to park your vehicle remotely

Can I still use a hands-free device?

Yes, under the new laws it will still be possible to make use of a hands-free device as long as you do not hold them at any point.

The device must not block you view in any way when being used and you must remain safely in control of the vehicle.

What actions should your business take in response to the new mobile phone when driving rules?

If you employ people to drive for a living then it will be vital that you ensure that your drivers are aware of the new mobile phone when driving rules, what constitutes an offence, and the penalties and consequences of being caught committing an offence under the new laws.

Be aware that your business culture should not promote the use of mobile devices when driving or put your drivers in a position where this becomes a necessity. You should have a zero tolerance on mobile phone use behind the wheel which reflects the severity of the offence and the potential for harm that driving when distracted can present.

As a business you should have a technology usage policy in place, and this will need to be updated to reflect the latest legislation.

We’ve written before about the fact that we are seeing insurers taking a particularly hard line on mobile phone use convictions, with premium increases linked to a driver having a mobile phone conviction being much more penal than those given for speeding offences for example. This is a direct reflection of the severity of the risk mobile phone use whilst driving poses. And is a clear indication that as a fleet manager you must take this behaviour seriously and that you must have appropriate risk management policies and procedures in place.

If you are reviewing your fleet insurance needs, then do chat to us at Anthony Jones. We have experts who can work with you to understand the risks that your business will face and the insurance that you need to have in place. We also work in association with DAC Beachcroft and can help you to understand how to draft and implement driving risk management policies and procedures for your business. Chat to us today about the difference we can make to your business on 020 8290 9099 or email us at commercial.motor@anthonyjones.com.

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