Picking up mobile phones whilst driving to be banned in the UK.

Law change expected early in 2021.

Early next year, drivers will no longer be able to pick up their mobile phones whilst on the road. The purpose of this new legislation, due to come into effect at the beginning of 2021, is to end the current loophole, which allows drivers to avoid being penalised for using a hand-held phone or device to take pictures, or be used for other purposes.

What Does This Mean?

The new legislation will state the following:

  • Picking up and using a hand-held device (sat-nav or mobile) while driving will be illegal.
  • If you are using a hands-free device, it must be set up completely before you begin your journey.
  • The law applies throughout your journey, even if you're stationery or at traffic lights.
  • Drivers can still use their mobile phones to pay at drive-throughs.
  • If you break the law, you could receive a fine, penalty points or even a driving ban.
  • The Police can stop you if they think you have been distracted.

These changes will apply across the whole of the UK, pending final consultation.

Reasons Behind the Change

  • There were 637 casualties on the roads in 2019, which involved a driver using their hand-held device. Out of that number, there were 135 cases of serious injury including 18 deaths.
  • Drivers who had been directly involved in a serious or fatal car accident had avoided prosecution. Back in 2019, one driver who was convicted for using their mobile device to film a crash, successfully appealed against it.

"The closing of this loophole is very welcome and reflects the multitude of ways drivers can use hand-held phones when behind the wheel in 2020," said RAC Head of Roads Policy Nicholas Lyes.

"We know that the use of hand-held mobile phones at the wheel continues to represent a very real road safety risk, so it's clear more needs to be done to make this as socially unacceptable as drink-driving."

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