Consultation launched on phone driving loopholes

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Published on 19 October 2020 by Mike Waters

The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced the launch of a new consultation on updating the law to close loopholes in legislation on the use of mobile phones while driving 

As the BMF has previously reported, the current legislation which came into force in 2003 has been outpaced by advancing technology. Under existing law, taking photographs, accessing the internet, playing games and filming while also driving a car are not illegal because the exact wording only bans “interactive communication” such as phone calls or text messages. 

This new consultation is asking for views on both "broadening the offence of using a hand-held mobile phone while driving so that it captures standalone mode functions as well as the existing interactive communication functions” and on adding “a new exemption to the using a hand-held mobile phone while driving offence to allow drivers to make contactless payments”. 

However, the DfT has confirmed that the government has refused calls to ban the use of hands-free functions as well, meaning that using mobile phones as a sat-nav device will also remain legal under the proposed amended legislation.  

Commenting, 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. 

You can find out more about the consultation and contribute at the DfT’s website here. 

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