The government has recently announced that a blanket ban on drivers using hand-held mobile phones behind the wheel is to be introduced in the UK by 2020.
Currently, using a mobile phone while driving to make calls or texts is illegal in Britain, with the fixed penalty increasing from three penalty points and a £100 fine to six penalty points and a £200 fine in March 2017. Courts can impose a fine of up to £1,000 for car drivers and £2,500 for HGV and bus drivers, as well as issuing a driving disqualification.
However, a loophole in the law means that some have escaped punishment for using their phone to film or take photos.
In July, Ramsey Barreto, 51, was charged with using his mobile phone while driving and was convicted by magistrates last year. But the builder appealed his conviction after he said he was not using his phone to “communicate”. Mr Barreto’s conviction was quashed by the High Court later that month, with judges pointing to this loophole as the reason why.
However, the ruling prompted two High Court judges to criticize current legislation, which has not been updated in the 16 years since the laws were introduced and, as a result, has fallen behind advances in smart phone technology.
The government now plans to close this legal loophole by revising the laws on mobile phone use behind the wheel to include browsing the internet and searching playlists, as well as filming and taking photos. This includes when sitting in stationary traffic.
The Department for Transport has confirmed the review will be carried out "urgently" and that further proposals are "expected to be in place by next spring".
The action follows a recent report by the Commons' Transport Select Committee which called on the government to introduce tougher rules on using a mobile phone while driving.
Ministers were also recommended by the committee to consider a ban on the use of hands-free mobile phones, however the government rejected this.
Road safety campaign group Brake have also urged the government to follow MPs recommendations and ban the use of all phone behind the wheel. Senior Public Affairs Officer, Samuel Nahk, said: "All phone use behind the wheel is dangerous and to get this message across to drivers the law must reflect this. Far too many people still use their phone behind the wheel, yet it should be as unacceptable as drink driving, with research showing that reaction times whilst texting are double those of drink-drivers."
“Excellent news for safe road users. Any chance it could be introduced in time for my cycle into work tomorrow?”
Hugh is Senior Partner and Head of Personal Injury here at Potter Rees Dolan Solicitors. If you would like to speak to Hugh, or any other member of our Personal Injury department, with regards to any aspect of this article, or indeed any other Personal Injury related matter, please contact us today. Call 0800 027 2557 or fill out a contact form at the side of this page. Alternatively, you can contact Hugh directly here.