Put stricter laws on mobile phone use while driving into effect

This coming Friday, March 25, will see the introduction of much-anticipated stricter laws on motorists who use their mobile phones while driving.

Since 2003, it has been illegal to use a hand-held phone while driving in Regulation 110 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986.

However, this regulation states that in order to commit the offense the driver must use the device for “interactive communication”, as this article published by the House of Commons Library explains.

But with the advent of smartphones over the past 15 years or so, legislation quickly became obsolete, with mobile devices being able to perform any number of functions, including playing or recording video, or playing music, with users being able to change songs via the app they’re using – something that’s likely to distract from driving.

The ineffectiveness of the current law was highlighted in the 2019 DPP case against Barreto where it was found that a motorist filming the aftermath of a traffic collision while driving was not guilty of a crime, as he was not using the device for interactivity. Telecommunications.

The legal instrument laying down the relevant changes to the law was presented to Parliament on 1 February this year.

Under the new legislation, even putting a mobile phone in ‘flight mode’ while driving would not enable anyone using it to claim that they complied with the law, with the government making it clear in the legal instrument that the offense would “cover any device that is capable of interactive communication even if this is not enabled.” job at that time.”

The legislation makes clear that “use” of a mobile phone will now include all of the following:

Screen lighting
check time
Check notifications
Unlock the device
Make, receive, or decline a phone or Internet call
Sending, receiving, or uploading oral or written content
Send, receive, or upload a photo or video
Using the camera, video or audio recording
craft any text
Access any stored data such as documents, books, audio files, photos, videos, movies, playlists, notes, or messages
Access to the application
Internet access.

Emergency use of a handheld mobile phone will continue to be permitted, and the law has also been expanded to enable drivers to use the phone as a contactless payment device, for example in a car park, toll booth or car park, provided the vehicle is stationary and paid goods or services are provided. At the same time.

Hands-free use of a mobile phone, for example to make or receive voice calls (drivers can be prosecuted for offenses such as driving without due care and attention if they are found to be distracted of course) as well as use of the device for satellite navigation purposes, provided it is kept in a cradle will also continue to be permitted. .

The minimum penalty for using a hand-held mobile phone at the wheel will continue to be a £200 fine and six penalty points on a driver’s license, while new drivers who have held their license for two years or less will have their license revoked.

The need to toughen the law has been highlighted by a recent case in which Mike van Erp – known as CyclingMikey on social media – filmed former Chelsea and England footballer Frank Lampard apparently using a mobile phone at the wheel and holding a cup of coffee in his other hand.

But the Crown Prosecution Service dropped the planned trial ahead of the court’s scheduled date, claiming there was no evidence of a crime, including presumably that Lampard was using the device for interactive communication.

> CPS confirms that the trial of football star Frank Lampard, which was filmed by CyclingMikey using a mobile phone while driving, has fallen through

Similarly, in March last year, we reported how a road.cc reader who provided police footage of a truck driver with a phone could not be referred to trial, with Hertfordshire Police saying they were unable to do so due to the Barreto case.

> “Look – no hand!” The mobile phone pickup truck driver cannot be prosecuted, for example the police (+ video)

The force said, “We must be realistic about what we can prove in a court of law and unfortunately in this case we cannot prove any wrongdoing beyond a reasonable doubt.”

However, a warning message was sent to the driver, and the police advised them that in the event of future accidents, this would be taken into account when dealing with them.