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:
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.
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
- 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.