Mobile Phones and Driving

A substantial body of research shows that using a hand-held or hands-free mobile phone while driving is a significant distraction, and substantially increases the risk of the driver crashing.
Drivers who use a mobile phone, whether hand-held or hands-free:
    They are also four times more likely to crash, injuring or killing themselves and other people.
    Using a hands-free phone while driving does not significantly reduce the risks because the problems are caused mainly by the mental distraction and divided attention of taking part in a phone conversation at the same time as driving.

    The Law

    On 1 December 2003, a law, "The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) (Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2003", came into force to prohibit drivers using a hand-held mobile phone, or similar device, while driving. It also made it an offence to "cause or permit" a driver to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving, or to use a hand-held mobile phone while supervising a driver who only has a provisional licence.
    The penalties were initially a fixed penalty of £30 or a fine of up to £1,000 if the offender goes to court (£2,500 for drivers of goods vehicles or passenger carrying vehicles with 9 or more passenger seats). Currently the penalty for using a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving is £100 and three penalty points added to the drivers' licence.

    The Definition of a Hand-Held Mobile Phone

    The Regulation includes any "device, other than a two-way radio, which performs an interactive communication function by transmitting and receiving data".
    It states that a "mobile telephone or other device is to be treated as hand-held if it is, or must be, held at some point during the course of making or receiving a call or performing any other interactive communication function". "interactive communication function" includes:
    • sending or receiving oral or written messages;
    • sending or receiving facsimile documents;
    • sending or receiving still or moving images; and
    • providing access to the internet
    There are two exemptions:

    • services and taxi drivers
    • 101 if it would be unsafe for the driver to stop.

    The Definition of Driving

    Under existing law a person may be regarded as "driving" a vehicle while the engine is running and the vehicle is stationary. The offence applies to all motor vehicles, including motorcycles, but not apply to pedal cycles.

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