Being caught driving while on your mobile phone is about to get you in a great deal more trouble. We looked into the new rules, when they kick in and how much the fines will be.
As a website that also reviews smartphones for a living, we completely get the fact they are incredibly addictive. We check the sodding things in the morning, before bed and about a thousand times in between.
But while it is okay to walk and text, no matter how annoying it is for people around you, it is never okay to use a mobile phone while driving. No, really. The dangers are for yourself and others around are very real, especially when travelling at higher speeds.
No wonder, then, the government is clamping down on it with much harsher penalties that aim to stigmatise it as much as drink-driving. Here are the things you need to know.
What happens if I am caught using my mobile while driving?
Right now, you could be handed a fine of £100 and three penalty points if caught by police. Depending on the severity of the case, you could also be disqualified from driving and get a maximum fine of up to £1,000. Those who ignore the law while driving a bus or goods vehicle can see a fine of up to £2,500.
Can I ever use a mobile phone at the wheel?
Unless the car is ‘safely parked’, to quote the Gov.uk website, the answer is no. The only exception is if you need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s ‘unsafe or impractical to stop’. In other words, emergency situations only.
So what is the new law?
The number of points you get if caught on a mobile phone while driving is set to increase to six points and the fine will double to £200. For anyone but a young driver, which we will cover in a second, that means two instances of being caught and it is a driving ban for you. Unless you can prove ‘exceptional hardship’ would be caused.
What if I am a new driver?
Because new drivers can be banned if they accumulate six penalty points within the first two years of driving, being caught once could see you banned from driving. So if you value your four-wheeled freedom, put your phone away.
When does the new mobile phone law come into play?
The 1st of March, 2017, is when the new mobile phone driving rules come into play, so those who find it hard to put their device down should start getting used to it. Be honest with yourself, the world can wait an extra 10 minutes for that cupcake selfie, right?
How many people are caught using a mobile phone while driving?
17,586 motorists were charged in 2015 compared with 35,255 in 2010, so the figures are in decline but there is a long way to go before the issue is brought under control.