Changes to the law surrounding the penalties for using a mobile phone behind the wheel are being introduced across England, Wales and Northern Ireland today.

Anyone who is caught using a mobile phone whilst driving will receive 6 points on their license and a £200 fine. This is double the previous fines and convictions handed out for the offence. These changes are being introduced in a crackdown on drivers using hand-held mobile phones.

There has been more of a focus on the issue of using a mobile phone whilst driving in recent years, including a nationwide week-long campaign that saw a huge increase in the number of people receiving fines, court summons and verbal warnings. During the campaign, almost 8,000 people were caught using their phones. 

The changes in the law also affect younger and newer drivers, as they may have their license revoked and face a driving ban if they are caught using their mobile phones, even on a first offence. A survey by the road safety charity Brake showed that younger drivers are significantly more likely to use a hand-held mobile phone when they’re driving. 19% of young drivers admitted that they text when driving at least once a month.

With young drivers reported to be involved in 12% of serious and fatal accidents on our roads, even though they only make up 1.5% of road users, it is understandable why it is important to ensure their driving behaviours are altered to improve their own and other people’s safety. You can read more about the risks to young drivers on our roads here.

The new legislation also targets the use of ‘internet devices’ whilst driving, widening the net of offences to tablets and other hand-held devices that people use which distract their attention away from the road. With the ever increasing interest in social media and apps such as Snapchat, this further legislation should help further in reducing reckless driving and discourage people from partaking in dangerous activities whilst driving.

You can still use your mobile phone as a satellite navigation device following the changes, however, these should be stored out of reach so that there is no temptation to use the phone and not clipped in the windscreen where it can block visibility and cause distractions.

Police forces across England, Wales and Northern Ireland have issued advice for drivers following the changes:

  • Turn your mobile phone off or put it on silent and store it away from you to remove the temptation of using it or checking messages and calls when driving.
  • Any calls, even those using a hands-free device can cause distractions. Always ensure your full attention is on the road.
  • Always make sure you are parked in a safe place before making a call or sending a message. The hard shoulder of the motorway is NOT a place to park and should never be used to check a mobile phone.
  • Do not call someone else if you know they will be driving. If you do get through to someone who’s driving, ask them to call you back once they are parked up.

Always remember, you can only us a hand-held mobile phone when you are safely parked or to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it is unsafe to pull over.

Any crackdowns to raise awareness and improve safety on the roads are welcomed. At Freeclaim Solicitors, we see the devastating consequences to the injured person and their family after a road accident. If you need further advice on how we can help after an accident, speak to one of our dedicated road accident team today on 0800 612 7340.