Loophole over mobile phone use by drivers to be closed

A loophole that allows drivers to escape punishment for cell phone use while taking a picture or playing a game will be closed, according to plans announced by the government.

The Ministry of Transport is advising on how to update legislation so that phone calls and SMS are not the only functions that are prohibited at the wheel.

An exception is made under the plans that allows cell phones to be used for contactless payments when a vehicle is stationary and the goods or services are being delivered immediately, e.g. B. for a drive through to take away.

Ministers have rejected calls to ban the use of hands-free functions. Drivers can continue to use devices that are hands-free while driving, e.g. B. a navigation device mounted in a charging station.

Road Minister Baroness Vere said: “Our roads are some of the safest in the world, but we want to make sure they are even safer by bringing the law into the 21st century.

“Because of this, we want to tighten the law so that using a handheld phone is illegal in various circumstances.”

“It’s distracting and dangerous, and for too long risky drivers have escaped punishment, but this update means those who do the wrong thing are exposed to the full force of the law.”

The law change would apply across the UK and is expected to come into effect early next year pending the outcome of the consultation.

In 2019 there were 637 casualties – including 18 deaths and 135 serious injuries – on the streets of the UK in accidents in which a driver using a mobile phone contributed.

The penalty for drivers who break the rules for using cell phones is six penalty points and a £ 200 fine.

The University of Leeds was commissioned by the DfT to analyze the mobile use of 52 drivers on a total of 765 trips.

662 phone interactions were observed, of which only 38 were completely hands-free.

A car driven at 30 mph goes 100 feet in 2.3 seconds, demonstrating how a moment to change a song on a playlist or review an app can lead to a crash.

National Road Police Chief Constable Anthony Bangham said, “Using a cell phone while driving is incredibly dangerous and being distracted at the wheel can change lives forever.

“The police will act decisively against those who illegally use a portable cell phone, and suggestions to clarify the law are welcome.”

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