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Institute of Transport Administration

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Government acts to improve road safety by closing mobile phone loophole

1 Nov 2019

Law to be tightened to close loophole that allows people to escape prosecution for hand-held phone use behind the wheel.

  • plans revealed to bring the hand-held mobile phone offence into the 21st century
  • updated law will prevent hand-held phone use in any capacity while driving going further to boost road safety and reduce accident rates
  • follows government work to improve road safety, including the launch of the Road Safety Action Plan and THINK! campaigns

At present, the law prevents drivers from using a hand-held mobile phone to call or text. However, people caught filming or taking photos while driving have escaped punishment as lawyers have successfully argued this activity does not fit into the ‘interactive communication’ currently outlawed by the legislation.

The revised legislation will mean any driver caught texting, taking photos, browsing the internet or scrolling through a playlist while behind the wheel will be prosecuted for using a hand-held mobile phone while driving.

It is already a criminal offence to use a phone while driving without a hands-free device. This latest move will see the government go further to ensure the law reflects the use of devices that allow other distracting activities.

The impact of this behaviour is proven – if a driver looks at their phone for just 2 seconds when travelling at 30 miles per hour, whether to reply to a message or send a quick snap, they will travel 100 feet blind, drastically increasing the chance of an accident.

The review will be urgently taken forward with further proposals expected to be in place by next spring, making the offence clearer for drivers and police forces.

More information here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-acts-to-improve-road-safety-by-closing-mobile-phone-loophole