Did you know that as a new driver using your phone while driving can cost you your licence?

New drivers who have passed their test in the last two years can automatically lose their licence if caught using their phone while at the wheel.

No matter how careful you are, studies show you are FOUR times more likely to be in a road traffic collision if you’re using a handheld mobile phone while driving.

That’s why the penalties were increased for using your phone in the car were increased in 2017, with a typical fine increasing from £100 to £200.

Yet despite these hefty increase in penalties, there’s still people who underestimate the risks of using a mobile phone while driving with as many as one in five UK motorists still flouting the law

In the RAC Report on Motoring 2019, a shocking 51% of drivers between 17 and 24 confess to making or receiving calls on a handheld phone while they are driving, at least occasionally.

35% of under-25s also say they check texts, email or social media while driving, despite the heightened level of risk involved in looking away from the road, even for seconds at a time.  
 
Hopefully you are one of the smart drivers who don’t! 

How does using your mobile phone effect your driving?

It comes as no surprise to know that drivers using a handheld mobile phone are slower at recognising and reacting to hazards.

But you may not know that is has been proven that drivers using hands-free devices are also effected.

Even careful drivers can be distracted by a call or text – and a split-second lapse in concentration could result in a crash. At 30 mph a car travels 100 feet in 2.3 seconds.

Research shows:

  • You are 4 times more likely to be in a collision if you use your phone – whether it is handheld or hands free
  • Your reaction times are 2 times slower if you text and drive than if you drink drive, and this increases to 3 times if you use a handheld phone
  • Messaging drivers have 35% slower reaction times and poor lane control and one large-scale study found they were 23 times more likely to crash than an attentive driver
  • About half of drivers aged 25-34 in a Brake survey admitted to messaging, using apps and browsing at the wheel

And it’s not just mobile phones that are causing concern. Smartwatches are thought to pose an even greater risk to drivers.

Research has found that checking smartwatches while driving can cause drivers to lose concentration and react more slowly to hazards on the road.

Many people are now calling for the complete banning of all phones in cars, including hands-freee devices.

The road safety charity Brake, among others, wants there to be an extension of the ban to include hands-free devices.

What is the law for using a mobile phone while driving?

Many people still don’t realise that is illegal to even hold a mobile phone in your hand while driving – even if you just pick it up for a moment. 

Using a handheld mobile is considered a distraction from driving which, according to the law, prevents you from staying in full control of your vehicle.  

And just because you have stopped at traffic lights that doesn’t mean you can have a cheeky look.

The mobile phone driving law also applies if:

  • you stop at traffic lights
  • you’re stuck in a traffic jam
  • your vehicle is in automatic ‘stop-start’ mode
  • you’re a passenger who is supervising a learner driver

The only times you are legally allowed to use a handheld mobile in your car are:

  • if you’re safely parked (not in traffic)
  • if you need to call 999 emergency services and it’s not safe to stop
  • You’re allowed to use your phone while driving if it’s set up correctly with a hands-free device such as a:

    • bluetooth headset
    • built-in voice command computer
    • dashboard cradle
    • windscreen mount
    • built-in sat nav

    Make sure any devices attached to the windscreen or dashboard don’t obscure your view of the road.

    What are the penalties for using a mobile phone while driving?

    So what are the current penalties? The current penalties for using a mobile phone while driving are:

    • You can get a £200 fine and 6 penalty points for using a hand-held phone when driving
    • You can get 3 penalty points if you don’t have full view of the road ahead or proper control of the vehicle
    • New drivers who have passed their test in the last 2 years will automatically lose their licence
    • If taken to court you could face disqualification and a fine of up to £1,000 (£2,500 if you’re driving a lorry or a bus)

    There’s no getting away from the fact that using your mobile phone while driving is illegal and incredibly dangerous and the penalties reflect that.

    How could a mobile phone penalty affect your car insurance?

    Motorists don’t just have a hefty fine to worry about if they are caught using their phone while driving. A CU80 mobile penalty could also result in higher insurance premiums of up to 40% when it comes to renewing their car insurance.
      
    Some insurance providers may even refuse to insure a driver with a CU80 mobile offence.

    So, if you want to keep yourself and others safe as well as keeping your licence and avoiding hefty penalties, don’t use a handheld mobile when driving.

    How to avoid being distracted by your mobile phone when driving?

    So with all the dangers and penalties associated with driving while using a mobile phone, what measures can you take to stop being distracted by your handset?

    No matter how disciplined you think you are, it is very hard not to be distracted when a text comes in.

    The only way to be truly sure you won’t be distracted is to TURN YOUR PHONE OFF.

    And even better… make the glove box the phone box.

    Put your phone out of sight and out of mind.

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    Approved Driving Instructors who are part of the Engage Driving scheme cover subjects like this as this as part of their lessons.

    You can find your nearest engage driving instructor by clicking here or if you are an instructor who would like to join and support the scheme you can find out more here