Current Laws & Hands Free
In the UK, it is currently illegal to make phone calls or send text messages while driving. Yet, handsfree phone users are technically able to make calls while driving.
Phones behind the wheel: explaining the law
- Using a hand-held mobile phone or sat-nav while driving is illegal
- Any hands-free devices should be fully set up before you drive
- Police still have the power to stop you if they think you have been distracted by a phone
- The law still applies if you’re stopped in traffic or queuing at lights
- You could get penalty points, a fine and/or a driving ban if you break the law
The government is aiming to ban drivers from handling or touching their phones completely when they’re behind the wheel. This new law aims to prevent people taking photos, playing games, or playing about with their music while driving. It is currently unclear when these new rules will come into place, but it is reported to be early this year.
The penalties for breaking the current laws results in six points and a £200 fine. But there are loopholes within this current legislation, which means drivers can still use their phones. Some phone use is not always considered as ‘interactive communication’, meaning it does not fit the current definition of an offence. This new legislation is due to replace current rules for phone usage whilst driving.
Announcing the consultation in October, Roads Minister Baroness Vere said:
“Our roads are some of the safest in the world, but we want to make sure they’re safer still by bringing the law into the 21st century. That’s why we’re looking to strengthen the law to make using a hand-held phone while driving illegal in a wider range of circumstances – it’s distracting and dangerous and for too long risky drivers have been able to escape punishment but this update will mean those doing the wrong thing will face the full force of the law.’”
It is one of seven new laws expected to be brought in for drivers this year. Ministers have already rejected the plans to ban the use of phones with hands-free functions, meaning you will still be able to use your hands-free in your car. This will only be as long as your car has an option to answer the phone via the steering-wheel. However, the government is planning to introduce an exemption that allows drivers to make contactless payments at venues like drive-through food outlets.
AA president Edmund King OBE said there is ‘no excuse’ for picking up a phone while driving. He added: ‘Phones do so much more than calls and texts, so it’s only right that the law is changed to keep pace with technology. Tweets, TikTok and Instagram snaps can all wait until you park up. These new rules will clarify the law and help drivers realise that this dangerous act can have the same consequences and be as socially unacceptable as drink driving. If you cannot resist the temptation to pick up your phone, then you should convert your glovebox into a phone box.’
The new law is expected to come into place soon, so watch out and ensure you’re always driving with the law in mind.