New laws have come into place in an attempt to reduce driver distraction.
Using your hand held phone while driving became illegal on the 1st December 2003, with those caught receiving three points on their licence and a £30 fine. Over time the fine was increased to £100, in a bid to deter motorists from using their phone. However, after a survey taken in November 2016 it became clear that there were thousands of drivers who were still being caught using their phone while driving.
As of 1St March this year the penalty was doubled. Any driver caught with their phone behind the wheel will now face an instant six points on their licence and an on the spot £200 fine. Bear in mind that for drivers who have only held their licence for less than two years, six penalty points means having a driving licence completely revoked. The question still remains as to whether the new penalties will be successful in reducing the number of offences committed; some sources say the number of drivers caught still remains high. While many drivers strongly believe they won’t be caught, there are an alarming number of motorists who don’t think using a phone behind the wheel causes a distraction.
Whether it’s sending a text, making a call or scrolling through social media apps, tests have shown that driver reaction times and concentration levels are greatly affected, with those who use their phone being four times more likely to crash. This not only puts the driver at risk, but passengers and other road users too. Drivers who use their phone aren’t able to anticipate the road ahead or react quickly in the event of an emergency situation.
Can You Use a Hands-Free Kit?
While using a hands-free kit isn’t Illegal if it causes you to lose concentration and the ability to drive in a safe manner you could land yourself in hot water with the police.
The simplest way to avoid the penalty is to put your phone away, out of reach and out of sight. If receiving a text or call could distract you pop your phone into flight mode for the duration of your drive. If you know you’ll need to make a call then allow extra time in your journey to find a safe place to pull over to do so.