Mobile phones

Engine on, phone off

You and the law

It's now illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone when you're driving, even when you're stopped at traffic lights or in a queue of traffic.  New legalisation came into force in February 2007, which has increased the fine from £30 to £60, and three points will now be added to your drivers licence. If you get six points within two years of passing your test, your licence will be revoked and you will have to re-sit your test.


The £60 fine can be increased to amaximum of £1,000 (£2,500 for drivers of lorries, buses and coaches) if the matter goes to court.


This includes making or receiving calls, pictures, text messaging or accessing the Internet. You must pull over to a safe location. Risk using a hand-held mobile phone when driving, and you risk a fine.


You can also be prosecuted for using a hands-free mobile phone if you fail to have proper control of your vehicle.


Drive carelessly or dangerously when using any phone and the penalties can include disqualification, a large fine and up to two years imprisonment.


If you are an employer, you may also be prosecuted if you require your employees to make or receive mobile calls while driving.  It is an offence to cause or permit a driver not to have proper control of a vehicle.


The only exceptions to the rule are when you need to call 999 or 112 in response to a genuine emergency. Two-way radios are not covered by this offence but other devices for sending or receiving data are included if they are held while driving i.e. a PDA, Blackberry or similar device


Facts and Stats


Research undertaken by a range of organisations has shown that:


  • You are four times more likely to have a crash if you are using a mobile phone whilst driving

  • In fact, if you use any type of mobile be it hands free or hand held, your reaction times are worse than if you were driving under the influence of alcohol

  • Tests have shown that reaction times for drivers using a hand-held phone slows reactions by 50% when compared to normal driving and by 30% when compared to being drunk

  • Research shows a clear trend for significantly poorer driving performance (speed control, following distance and reaction times) when using a mobile phone

  •  The use of a mobile phone often involves distractions, which could be visual, auditory, mental or physical

  • The physical effort in holding a telephone conversation is clear. Drivers will be frequently forced to take their hands off the steering wheel. There is also a significant visual distraction as drivers take their eyes off the road when making and receiving calls

  • Using mobile phones to send text messages involved the greatest degree of physical and visual distraction


Direct Line mobile Phone Report 2002 summary  (www.thinkroadsafety.gov.uk)