A new legislation will now been introduced in 2007 with
regards to road safety and the usage of mobile phones.
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Section 26 of the Road Safety Act 2006 increases the fixed
penalty for drivers using a hand held phone or similar device.
This section is being commenced on 27 February 2007, and the
penalty will then rise from £30 to £60 and three penalty points.
The same changes are being made to the penalties for not
having proper control of a vehicle - a measure which can also
be used where a driver has been distracted by using a hands-free
If the police or the driver chooses to take a case to court
rather than use a fixed penalty notice, the maximum fine is
£1,000 (£2,500 for drivers of vans, lorries, buses and coaches).
Due to enforcement difficulties the department has permitted
the use of hands free equipment within the new regulations.
Although some respondents considered that further action was
needed against hands-free use, the department does not consider
that hands-free phones should be prohibited unless they are
being held during use.
For further discussion
Fully fitted professional hands-free car kits will be acceptable,
however the term hands-free has been used very loosely in
respect to other devices such as walk and talk and personal
hands-free, definitions of such devices are to be clarified
by the department.
The safest and sure definition of a hands-free kit is one
that is permanently wired into the vehicle (including a cradle
type arrangement) and uses one or more speakers permanently
fixed in the vehicle. The driver should not have to significantly
alter their position in relation to the steering wheel in
order to use it. A professional hands-free car kit supplied
and installed by Isis Installations will ensure you are covered
under the new and current laws.
Frequently asked questions
Is a driver allowed to use any other equipment like a hands-free
The use of a hands-free phone or other equipment is not specifically
prohibited because it is difficult for police to see it in
use. But if you drive poorly because you are distracted by
a phone conversation for example, then the police can prosecute
for failing to have proper control of the vehicle.
The same penalty applies as for hand-held phones - 3 points
and a £60 fine. If there is an incident or a crash, the use
of any phone could be justification for the charges of careless
or dangerous driving. The penalties on conviction for such
offences include heavy fines, endorsement, disqualification
and, in serious cases, imprisonment. Courts are taking a serious
view in such cases.
What about employers?
The requirement for an employer to assess risks applies
to employees driving at-work. Employers therefore need to
consider the risks associated with using a phone while driving.
They should not ask their staff to make or receive calls while
driving. Employers could be liable to prosecution if they
require or allow employees to use a mobile phone while driving
for work. Remember that all phones affect concentration. Using
one could put employees driving at-work, and others, at risk.
What about cyclists?
It is not a specific offence to cycle and use a mobile phone
but cyclists could be prosecuted by the police for careless
or dangerous cycling. Cyclists need to concentrate like all
other road users. They should not do anything that would affect
their concentration and put themselves and other road users
Must I switch off any phone in my car?
No. Passengers may want to use a phone. If you are driving
on your own, we advise that if you do not switch your phone
off, you should switch it to voicemail, message service or
call diversion and ring back when you are safely parked.
What is the law about mobile phones while driving?
It is illegal to drive a vehicle or ride a motorbike and
use a hand held mobile phone or similar device. It is also
illegal to supervise a learner and use a hand-held phone.
Hands-free phones are also a distraction and you risk prosecution
for not having proper control of a vehicle if the police see
you driving poorly while using one.
A hand held device is something that "is or must be held
at some point during the course of making or receiving a call
or performing any other interactive communication function.
A device "similar" to a mobile phone includes a device that
can be used for sending or receiving spoken or written messages,
sending or receiving still or moving images or providing Internet
If you accept a roadside fixed penalty notice, you will
receive 3 points on your licence and a fine of £60. If a case
goes to court, in addition to points, you could face discretionary
disqualification on top a maximum fine of £1,000 (or £2,500
in the case of drivers of buses/coaches and goods vehicles).
2) What's wrong with using a mobile phone while driving? It
is dangerous because a telephone conversation (or texting)
distracts from the mental concentration needed to drive safely.
You put yourself and other road users in danger. Research
has shown that driver's reaction times are up to 50% slower
that normal when driving and using a mobile phone. It also
shows that your reaction times are 30% worse than when driving
under the influence of alcohol. Other research suggests that
if you are using a mobile phone while driving you are four
times more likely to have a crash.
How can a police officer prove that I was on my hands free/mobile?
If you drive badly and a police officer suspects you have
been using your phone he can stop you and seek a reason for
the poor driving. If it goes to court, your phone records
can be checked to determine whether you were using your phone.
When is a driver allowed to use a hand-held phone?
There is an exception for calls to 999 or 112 in a genuine
emergency where it would be unsafe or impractical to stop.
Using 2-way radio equipment when driving is not a specific
offence. Remember that a conversation could still distract
from the concentration needed to drive safely. If you do not
have proper control, then the police can still take action.
What if a mobile phone in my car rings?
What if I phone someone who is driving? Let it ring and return
the call when you are able to park in a safe place. It would
be better to switch to voicemail before starting. If you phone
someone who is driving, say you will phone later and hang
What counts as driving?
Driving is using a motor vehicle on public roads and can
include when a vehicle is stopped at traffic lights or during
a traffic hold-up. Therefore you should not use that time
to make or receive a call. Park safely and then use the phone
(but not on the motorway hard shoulder).
We will keep subscribers of mPHONE news informed of
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