SMALL business and fleet drivers are at risk of falling foul of new mobile phone laws that were introduced by the government in January with minimal information or publicity. The new rules, which were included in changes to the Highway Code introduced on 29 January.
It is already illegal to text or make a phone call (other than in an emergency) using a hand-held device while driving. The new laws outlaw any use of a mobile while at the wheel, with the exception being to make contactless payments, for example while entering a car park, paying road tolls or purchasing drive-through food.
The law is also more precise about the fact that being stationary in traffic counts as driving, making it clear that hand-held mobile phone use at traffic lights or in motorway jams is illegal except in very limited circumstances.
Drivers are now banned from using their phones to take photos or videos, scroll through playlists or play games. A phone can be used for navigation so long as it is ‘hands-free’ and securely mounted in a cradle. Anyone caught using their hand-held device while driving will face a £200 fixed penalty notice and six points on their licence.
Delivery drivers in particular are at risk of being prosecuted as they rely heavily on app-based technology to manage their schedules and for navigation. The pressure to remain on a delivery schedule means they often use their mobile apps for status updates with the vehicles running or even while moving. This is now illegal.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that too many deaths and injuries occur while mobile phones are being held.
“By making it easier to prosecute people illegally using their phone at the wheel, we are ensuring the law is brought into the 21st century while further protecting all road users.
While our roads remain among the safest in the world, we will continue working tirelessly to make them safer, including through our award-winning THINK! campaign, which challenges social norms among high-risk drivers.”
Other changes to the Highway Code were introduced in January and concern has been expressed by fleet businesses about the poor communication from the government. See: Fleet Drivers Need to Know Highway Code Changes
Image: Dmitry Vechorko