The rules and dangers of using mobiles while driving

All motorists should know that driving while using a mobile phone is illegal and yet research from the Department for Transport has shown that 500,000 motorists still use their mobiles everyday while on the road.

So why is driving with mobiles banned?

Many motorists wrongly believe that they still have the same levels of control and awareness while driving using a mobile however, that’s just not true.

Research from the Transport Research Laboratory indicates that the reaction times of motorists speaking on mobiles (even using hands free devices) were up to 30 per cent slower than when they were over the alcohol limit and 50 per cent slower than those driving without any distractions.

Texting and replying to emails on mobiles is even more dangerous. The Institute of Advanced Motorists has found in their research that reaction times of drivers reduced by 37.4% when texting and when using a smartphone for social networking reaction times slowed by 37.6 %.

Growing evidence also suggests that sat-navs distract drivers from driving. A survey by road safety charity, Brake, found 7% of drivers had narrowly avoided a crash because they were distracted by a sat-nav while driving.

So what are the rules and laws around using mobiles?

It’s illegal to use a handheld mobile while driving; this includes texting and checking emails. Unless you’re safely parked it is also illegal to use your mobile while static in a vehicle.

You can only use a handheld phone if you are safely parked or need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop.

You may use a hands-free phone while driving but you can still be prosecuted if you’re pulled over by the police and they deem you were not in proper control of your vehicle. The penalties are same as being caught using a handheld phone.

What happens if you get caught?

If you’re caught using a handheld phone while driving, you’ll get 3 penalty points on your driving licence and will face a fine of £100. Points on your licence will also result in higher insurance costs.

If you get 6 points in the first two years after passing your driving test, you will lose your licence.

The penalties for driving carelessly, or driving dangerously, when using a handheld or hands-free phone can include license disqualification, a large fine, and up to two years imprisonment.

All things considered, your best bet is probably to leave your phone safely out-of-sight and out-of-mind.