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Everything You Need To Know About Using Your Phone While Driving

Do you use your phone while driving? Here We Outline The Driving Laws On Mobile Phone Use

Jul 25, 2014

Do you use your phone while driving? Even if you don’t answer it when behind the wheel do you check your text messages or Facebook updates when you are at a junction or stuck in traffic?

If you do, you’re breaking the law. But, you’re not alone. A new survey from the RAC has found that British drivers have a ‘frightening level of ignorance’ when it comes to the laws governing mobile phones and driving.

We’ve put together a guide to this latest research and what you can and can’t do with your phone while driving. Keep reading to find out more.

New survey finds many motorists are ignorant of driving laws

A new survey of drivers has found that three in five motorists believe it is legal to text at the wheel of a stationary car with the engine running. The RAC poll also found that a fifth of motorists did not know that it is illegal to check social media websites on a phone while driving.

The RAC questioned 1,526 British motorists and found that 12 per cent didn’t know it was illegal to text while driving. A worrying 21 per cent thought it was legal to check Facebook and Twitter while at the wheel.

The motoring group said the findings revealed a "frightening level of ignorance about the law" relating to mobile phone use.

Three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said they had seen others talking on hand-held phones while driving - but just 8 per cent admitted doing this themselves.

RAC technical director David Bizley said that more than a million motorists had been convicted for mobile phone offences since they were made ‘explicitly illegal’ in 2003.

"This prompts the question as to whether motorists are deliberately flouting the law or whether they are just unaware of exactly what is and what isn't legal?" he said.

The motoring expert said that the research showed that it was ‘clear’ that drivers thought it was ‘more socially acceptable and less dangerous’ to use mobiles phones while stopped in traffic.

"They forget, for example, that when concentrating on their phone, a cyclist may pull up beside or just ahead of them and they may pull away, totally unaware of the cyclist's presence," he said.

The mobile phone and driving laws explained

Since December 2003 it has been illegal to drive or ride a motorcycle while using a hand-held phone or similar device. It’s important to remember that the rules are the same if you’re stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic.

It is also illegal to use a hand-held phone or similar device if you are supervising a learner driver or rider.

If you’re caught using a hand-held phone while driving or riding you can get an automatic penalty notice. You will get three penalty points on your licence and a fine of £100.

If you refuse to accept the fixed penalty you will be summonsed to appear in court. You may also be taken to court if the policeman thinks the offence so bad that a fixed penalty is inadequate.

If you go to court, fines will almost certainly be larger and disqualification is possible. The maximum fine in a court is £1,000, or £2,500 if you were driving a bus or a goods vehicle.

However, these offences apply simply if you are seen using a mobile while driving.  If your driving is bad, or if there is a crash while you are using the phone, you could be prosecuted for careless driving, dangerous driving or, if someone is killed, for causing death by careless or dangerous driving.

In these instances fines can be much greater, and prison becomes almost certain if a death is caused.

When you are allowed to use a mobile phone in your vehicle

If you’re the driver, you can only use your phone in a vehicle if:

  • You are safely parked
  • You need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it is impractical or unsafe to stop

You are allowed to use hands-free phones and 2-way radios when you’re driving or riding. However, if the police think you are still distracted and not in control of your vehicle you could still get stopped and penalised.

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