Tough new rules to stop drivers using mobile phones have come into force – get the full guide here

Tough laws to stop drivers using mobile phones at the wheel have now come into force – with 6 points and the possibility of a ban for first-time offenders.

Using a hand-held device while driving will attract much tougher penalties from March

All offenders can expect a minimum of six penalty points and the prospect of a £200, but newly qualified drivers could be instantly banned and forced to retake their test.

Experienced drivers who are caught for a second time, will also face the prospect of losing their licence for at least six months and fines of up to £1,000.

Currently, drivers can expect just three points for using a mobile device behind the wheel, but this has been blasted by many as an inadequate deterrent in the wake of many high-profile road fatalities involving motorists using phones.

At-a-glance guide to new penalties for driving with while using a mobile phone

When do the new penalties come into force: The new penalties became active on Wednesday, March 1, 2017.

What are the pre-March, 2017 penalties: Currently, drivers can get an automatic fixed penalty notice for using a device while driving or riding (a motorcycle). This attracts 3 penalty points on your licence and a fine of £100.

What are the new penalties: The penalties are as follows…

First-time offenders: 6 penalty points and £200 fine
Repeat offenders: Court appearance where they’ll face a ban of at least 6 months and £1,000 fine
Newly qualified drivers: Those who’ve been driving for less than 2 years face having their licence revoked after a first offence and made to drive as a learner until they pass their test again.

What about using hands-free and two-way radio: You are allowed to use the likes of hands-free devices, sat-navs and two-way radios (otherwise the cops would be in bother) when driving, but if police think you’re not in control while doing so, you could still be stopped and punished.

What are the rules for using a mobile phone while driving – can I use the in traffic stopped in jams: – It is illegal to use a hand-held phone while driving a car or riding a motorcycle.
Being stationary in a traffic jam makes no difference – it’s still illegal to use a hand-held device. This includes using your phone to follow a map
It’s also illegal to use a mobile phone when supervising a learner driver.
– Drivers can use a mobile if they need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop.
– Other than emergency situations, divers can only use a phone when they are safely parked.
– Using hands free (e.g. for navigation) is not illegal. However, if this distracts you and affects your ability to drive safely, you can still be prosecuted.

Why do we need these laws: Research show drivers’ reaction times are up to 50 per cent slower when they’re using a hand-held device. The use of mobile phones has been directly attributed to 22 fatal accidents in 2015.

Drivers who use a mobile phone, whether it is hand-held or hands-free:

React more slowly, take longer to brake and longer to stop

• are much less aware of what’s happening on the road around them

• fail to see road signs

• fail to maintain proper lane position and steady speed

• are more likely to ‘tailgate’ the vehicle in front

• are more likely to enter unsafe gaps in traffic

• feel more stressed and frustrated.Mobile phones and the law

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