Using your mobile when driving – the law

Last March, new regulations came into force that allow traffic officers to fine drivers £200 and six penalty points for using a handheld mobile phone while driving. For drivers that have held their licence for less than two years, six points would cause them to automatically lose their licence. Within the first six months, 290 drivers had their licence disqualified and within the first nine months, 39,000 drivers were fined for using mobiles illegally while driving.

The threat of steep fines and penalties have been effective, as the number of drivers using their handheld mobile while driving has dropped by 29 per cent. However, there may be some instances where you feel it’s necessary to use your mobile, but you’re concerned about the potential consequences.

It’s illegal to hold a phone or sat nav while driving or riding a motorcycle. You must have hands-free access, such as:

  • a bluetooth headset
  • voice command
  • a dashboard holder or mat
  • a windscreen mount
  • a built-in sat nav

 
The device must not block your view of the road and traffic ahead.

You must stay in full control of your vehicle at all times. The police can stop you if they think you’re not in control because you’re distracted and you can be prosecuted.

The law still applies to you if you’re:

  • stopped at traffic lights
  • queuing in traffic
  • supervising a learner driver

 
To clear up any ambiguity, here’s what you can and cannot do with your mobile while behind the wheel:

  • Can: Listen to music or podcasts (as long as it is in a hands-free holder or connected by Bluetooth).
  • Can: Pull over to check your mobile as long as you are safely parked (and the engine is switched off)
  • Can: Use sat-nav on your mobile as long as it is hands-free.
  • Can: Call 999 or 112 in an emergency when it is unsafe or impractical to stop your vehicle.
  • Cannot: Check social media or texts, even if you are queuing in traffic or stopped at a traffic light.
  • Cannot: Answer your mobile while driving. You can only answer the call if your mobile is hands-free. However, you should try to keep the conversation brief.

 

If in doubt…

Think you won’t be able to go the whole journey without touching your phone? Shut it in the glove compartment – it’s better to be safe than sorry.