Legal loophole which let drivers escape penalties for using phone at the wheel closes
Written by Gavin on 25th March 2022
New rules banning virtually all handheld mobile phone use on UK roads have come into force – closing a loophole that had allowed drivers to escape punishment for playing a game or scrolling through playlists.
Until now, only making calls and texting had been covered by legislation when it came to the use of handsets when behind the wheel.
But from today, a “zero-tolerance approach” means the law is expanded to cover things like taking photos or videos, picking your next podcast, and gaming.
Anyone caught using their handheld device in such a way while driving could face a fine of up to £1,000, as well as six points on their driving licence.
Exceptions include using a smartphone as a satnav so long as it’s secured in a cradle; making contactless payments, such as at drive-through restaurants; and instances when the vehicle is stationary.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “I will do everything in my power to keep road users safe, which is why I am taking a zero-tolerance approach to those who decide to risk lives by using their phone behind the wheel.
“I’m ensuring anyone who chooses to break this vital law can face punishment for doing so, and we’ll continue our efforts to ensure our roads remain among the safest in the world.”
The closing of the loophole has been welcomed by the AA and the RAC.
AA president Edmund King said it would “help make our roads safer” and reduce the number of fatal accidents.
RAC spokesperson Rod Dennis said the government could still go further, and suggested the rollout of cameras which can automatically detect handheld phone use, which are already in place in other countries.
The new rules will be promoted in an £800,000 awareness campaign to run until the end of April.
It comes after an RAC survey of 2,000 drivers conducted last week indicated that 43% of motorists are not aware of the changes being introduced, and 45% believe they will not be effective.