Mobile phone driving laws - New regulations and a new way to reduce risk

As of early March this year (2017) the national police campaign to enforce stricter penalties to drivers using their mobile phones behind the wheel came into effect. The changes have begun to have substantial impact on mobile phone use and for some offenders, serious consequences.

The new laws explained

The new changes in law regarding mobile phone use behind the wheel are relatively straightforward. Formerly, those caught using a handheld device whilst driving could face a fine of £100 alongside 3 penalty points and in serious offences, prosecution for careless or dangerous driving.

The campaign has resulted in these consequences doubling, with drivers now facing a fine of £200 alongside 6 penalty points. That is, if you do not drive a HGV or bus, in which case the potential issued fine can total a value of up to £2500.

The alterations thus have a monumental effect on all classifications of drivers:

- As the law currently stands, new drivers who accumulate 6 points within their first 2 years of driving face disqualification. With the new mobile phone laws in place, new drivers will only have to be caught offending once before losing their licence.

- Drivers who've been on the roads for more than 2 years face disqualification if they amount 12 points on their licence. Which means you'll only have to be spotted using your phone twice before losing your licence.

- Drivers of HGVs and buses may receive fines of up to £2500 per offence, which has the potential for a significant financial impact on vehicle fleets of all sizes. Those who think penalties are easily avoidable, may wish to become more cautious. As police forces nationwide have initiated a variety of patrols to catch offenders. With methodology varying from the use of unmarked vehicles, to helmet cameras and community watchers.

How you can stay safe The implementation of the new laws have had a mixed review nationwide, however the general consensus agrees that, as with any law designed to keep drivers safe on the road, its necessity is justified.

The most obvious way for drivers to stay safe on the road and avoid driving penalties would simply be to avoid mobile phone use all together. However for some this is simply not a viable option. In which case there are several approved ways in which you can legally use your mobile device:

- For those wishing to use your mobile phone as a GPS navigation system, the law enables you to do so, provided that your device is fixed into a hands-free holder.

- As has been the case for some time now, bluetooth, hands-free devices are a popular way to make and receive calls whilst driving. You may find that your vehicle allows for bluetooth pairing in order to operate your mobile in a hands-free manner, often with voice control.

- Many new vehicles also make use of audio controls on the steering wheel in order to change music if you are using your device for background listening. If your vehicle doesn't have this feature you should look to make use of voice controls and refrain from touching your device.

- If your vehicle is apart of a fleet you may also wish to consider a new method of ensuring minimised distraction, installing a specialist application onto your device in order to divert your calls and messages, and regulate your mobile phone's notifications and alerts whilst driving. Admin Business Solutions Ltd can provide their mobile phone blocking application with simple installation to fleets of all sizes for full fleet compliance.

Your main focus should, as ever, be to remain a safe and responsible driver with focus on yourself and the drivers around you. When using any of the approved methods you should ensure that you do not become distracted, and remember that the police reserve the right to stop you if they deem your device to be distracting you and potentially putting you at risk.

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