While the use of mobile phones when driving was already heavily restricted for UK car drivers, new laws taking effect from March 25 2022 have clamped down further on handheld digital device use behind the wheel.
New mobile phone laws for drivers have been introduced this month as part of changes to the Highway Code, which dictates the laws and rules of the road for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists.
Following campaigning by the RAC and road safety organisations, the new laws for drivers see an end to loopholes previously permitting certain types of handheld digital device use – such as to play games or film videos.
Here’s what the new mobile phone rules for drivers are, when you can use your phone while driving and the penalties for breaking the new Highway Code mobile phone laws in 2022.
What are the new mobile phone laws when driving?
Despite the existing ban on using handheld mobile phones to make calls or text while driving, the rise of streaming services, mobile gaming, video and image sharing and livestreaming has revealed new dangers hampering road safety efforts in the UK.
According to a RAC Motoring report in 2020, nearly a third of British drivers indicated other drivers’ handheld mobile phone use as among their top concerns.
New laws introduced on March 25 2022 will now make it illegal to hold a mobile phone or use it behind the wheel for almost every reason.
The changes to the Highway Code also clamp down on the use of other interactive digital devices while driving – even if they are in airplane mode – with the use of any device which can ‘send or receive data’ now outlawed for use by drivers of cars and motorcycles.
This means that even holding and entering information into a sat nav or navigational device is now against the law.
It’s illegal to hold and use a phone, sat nav, tablet, or any device that can send or receive data, while driving or riding a motorcycle.
The law also applies when stopping at traffic lights, queueing in traffic, supervising a learner driver or driving a car that turns off the engine when you stop moving.
Hands free devices must be used instead, but cannot block your view of the road or be held while driving at any time – so you cannot reply to messages, scroll through notifications or enter destination information into a sat nav from behind the wheel.
When can you use your phone while driving?
The new mobile phone and digital device driving laws now expressly forbid motorists from even holding a handheld device behind the wheel, with costly penalties for anyone who does so.
The only circumstance in which you may use a phone behind the wheel is still when you need to make a 999 emergency call and it would be unsafe or impractical to stop and do so.
Beside this, you can now only use a handheld device when safely parked, making a contactless payment in a non-moving vehicle such as at a drive-through outlet, or if you are using the device to park your vehicle remotely.
What are the penalties for breaking the new mobile phone driving laws?
The penalties and punishment for breaking the new handheld device laws vary depending on the severity of the incident and how recently you passed your driving test.
Any driver breaking the law can expect to receive up to six penalty points on their licence and a £200 fine, but those who have passed their driving test within the last two years risk losing their licence altogether.
In addition to this, drivers can receive a further three penalty points if they do not have a full view of the road, traffic ahead or full control over their vehicle if using a handheld device.
Should you break the laws, there is the added risk of being taken to court – where you could be banned and face a maximum fine of £1,000 for car and motorcycle drivers, and £2,500 for lorry or bus drivers.
Should any driver break the law, they can get up to 6 penalty points and a £200 fine. They could also lose their licence if they passed their driving test within the last 2 years.
Drivers can get a further 3 penalty points if they do not have a full view of the road and traffic ahead or proper control of the vehicle if they are using a handheld device.
Offenders can also be taken to court where they can be banned from driving and receive a maximum fine of £1,000 - or up to £2,500 for lorry or bus drivers.
To find out more, go to https://www.gov.uk/using-mobile-phones-when-driving-the-law.