Six points on your license if you handle your phone at the wheel under new laws
Drivers will soon face £200 fines and six points on their licence if they so much as touch their phone while at the wheel, ministers announced last night.
Tougher laws taking effect early next year will make phone use while driving illegal in almost all circumstances.
Touching the screen to scroll a music playlist, browse the internet, take a photograph or play a mobile game will all be covered by a ban early next year.
The stringent rules will also apply when stopped at a red light or stuck in traffic.
Tougher laws taking effect early next year will make phone use while driving illegal in almost all circumstances. Pictured: A man uses his phone while driving (stock image)
The only significant exception is that drivers will still be able to use their phone as a sat-nav as long as it is secured in a holder, and hands-free calls. Mobile payments at drive-through restaurants or on toll roads will also be allowed.
But motorists performing one of these actions could still be prosecuted if the police find them not in proper control of their vehicle.
The changes strengthen existing laws which prohibit texting or calling while driving.
The move was first announced last year, but then delayed. Ministers announced last night that it will now happen early next year, with the Highway Code also updated.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the changes would make it easier to prosecute drivers who ignore the rules. ‘Too many deaths and injuries occur whilst mobile phones are being held,’ he said.
‘By making it easier to prosecute people illegally using their phone at the wheel, we are ensuring the law is brought into the 21st century while further protecting all road users.
‘While our roads remain among the safest in the world, we will continue working tirelessly to make them safer, including through our award-winning THINK! campaign, which challenges social norms among high-risk drivers.’
The Daily Mail’s End The Mobile Madness campaign has called for tougher penalties for drivers who recklessly put the lives of others at risk by using their phones.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps (pictured in the House of Commons on Thursday) said the changes would make it easier to prosecute drivers who ignore the rules. ‘Too many deaths and injuries occur whilst mobile phones are being held,’ he said
Plans for a blanket ban on using mobiles while driving were first mooted two years ago. Following a public consultation which found 81 per cent of people in favour, the legislation has been fine-tuned to include the small number of exceptions.
The Highway Code will explain the new rules and make it clear that using a phone even in stationary traffic is illegal.
Exemptions will apply for calling emergency services where it is not possible to stop, and for remote-controlled parking functions.
Highways England has trialled the use of high-definition cameras that can take pictures of motorists through their windscreens.
In theory, these could be fitted to overhead gantries with offending drivers sent prosecution notices in the same way as speeding tickets. But there is no sign so far of this being rolled out.
Mary Williams, chief executive of road safety charity Brake, called the announcement, which coincides with Road Safety Week, ‘very welcome’. She added: ‘Driver distraction can be deadly and using a hand-held phone at the wheel is never worth the risk.
‘This news is particularly welcomed by families suffering bereavement and catastrophic injury due to drivers being distracted by phones.’
AA president Edmund King said: ‘By making mobile phone use as socially unacceptable as drink-driving, we are taking big steps to make our roads safer.
‘For years, the AA has campaigned hard and helped educate drivers to the dangers from bad mobile phone use.
‘To help ensure drivers get the message, we also need more cops in cars to help catch and deter those still tempted to pick up.’