UK government moves to tighten mobile phone driving laws

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Provided by Daily Mail Mail Online logo

The Department for Transport unveiled proposals on Saturday that would lead to immediate penalties.

Recognising that mobile phones are commonly used as a method of payment - such as at drive-thrus - an exemption will apply under the new proposals set out by government today to contactless payments, if a vehicle is stationary, and if goods or services - such as a takeaway meal - are delivered immediately.

However, ministers looking into the changes have rejected further calls to ban hands-free tools on cars.

Now, following a review of the offence, a consultation has been launched on bringing the law into line with modern technology - meaning drivers caught taking photos, playing games or scrolling through a playlist behind the wheel will be clearly breaking the law on mobile phone use.

Roads minister Baroness Vere, who is charge of making laws which affect roads in the United Kingdom, said Britain's roads were "some of the safest in the world", but the new law would be more up-to-date with modern times.

Now a new law has banned drivers from even touching their phone when they are driving.

It is already a criminal offence to use a phone to make calls or text messages while behind the wheel.

"It's confusing and unsafe and for a very long time risky drivers have escaped punishment, but this update means those who do wrong will face the full force of the law".

Penalties will remain the same as those issued to current phone offenders with drivers issued a £200 fine and up to six penalty points on a driving licence.

The measure is expected to take effect in early 2021.

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Drivers distracted by their phones could still be prosecuted for careless or unsafe driving if they cause an accident.

In 2019, there were 637 road accidents in Britain - 18 killed and 135 seriously injured - in crashes where drivers using mobiles were a contributing factor.

In 2017, police forces launched a series of campaigns to stop young motorists from taking pictures of selfies while driving.

Drivers will also still be able to use hands-free devices, like bluetooth headsets. Of 662 phone interactions, only 38 were totally hands-free.

"Police will take robust action against those using a hand-held mobile phone illegally and proposals to make the law clearer are welcome".

He said: "Using a mobile phone while driving is incredibly unsafe and being distracted at the wheel can change lives forever".

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: "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".

It will become illegal for anyone to pick up and use their mobile phone while driving, under new legislation to be enacted next year.

It has been established that distraction caused by mobile phone usage while driving, can deprecate driving performance, for instance increasing reaction time and increasing frequency of lane change.

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