The highway code rules are always being updated and it can be hard to keep up with all the new developments.
But drivers who don’t take the time to make sure they’re up to date can find themselves in a very costly situation – and could even lose their licence.
One area where there has been a series of updates is the law surrounding mobile phones. The rules have got increasingly tighter as mobile phone usage is highlighted more and more as the cause of serious, even fatal, crashes.
Most people have a vague idea that mobile phones should not be used at all when driving, but many are not 100 per cent sure about exactly what they can and can’t do with their phones while driving.
Many need to access their phones for work purposes – to keep in touch with base or use the sat nav – and they also may not be entirely clear on how they can do that and stay within the law.
Offences carry fines of up to £200 and potentially six licence penalty points and new drivers who have passed their test within the two previous years could lose their licence entirely if caught.
Of course, offenders can also pay the ultimate price, causing an accident which leads to the loss of their own life or someone else’s.
It’s vital that all drivers are aware of the rules – and stick to them.
So, what exactly can’t you do?
It’s 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.
The law still applies to you if you’re stationary at traffic lights, stuck in a traffic jam or using a device that’s offline or in flight mode.
It also applies if you are supervising a learner driver – so you don’t necessarily have to be behind the wheel.
Any device that can send or receive signals, including a sat nav, is included in this. Sat navs should always be set before the engine is started.
What are the exceptions?
There are some occasions when it is acceptable to use your phone whilst in your car, however.
These include if you need to call an emergency number (999 or 112) and it’s unsafe to stop; if you’re safely parked; if you’re making a contactless payment, such as a drive-through or a toll payment, or if you’re using your device to park your vehicle remotely.
I need to access my phone for work, how can I work around this?
If using a device really is a necessity, for example for navigation or for calls on the go, there are ways you can still do this within the law.
By using a Bluetooth headset, dashboard or windscreen holders, voice commands or a car’s built-in sat nav, you’re acting within the law.
Anything that’s is hands-free is allowed, but the device must not block your view of the road and traffic ahead.
The key is that you must be seen to be in full control of your vehicle at all times. If you’re distracted, you can be prosecuted.
What does this mean for my business?
If you provide vehicles for your employees, or you and your employees are expected to travel long journeys where navigation or calling is a necessity, then providing Bluetooth devices or navigation that can be used without breaking the law could save a lot of money and stop the potential revoking of licences.
This will also help to keep you, your employees and other road users safe.
Be sure to keep all employees updated on the laws surrounding mobile phone use as well, to make sure they are clear on the rules.
If you have any questions about how you can take measures to avoid falling foul of the mobile phone laws in the UK, get in touch with us and we can help.
Learn more about how we can help by calling 0333 006 3825 or emailing email@example.com