February 08, 2022
Road safety charities and motoring associations have welcomed a tightening of the rules relating to the use of mobile phones while driving. New laws have been introduced from the beginning of 2022 with the aim of ensuring the use of smartphones at the wheel becomes as socially unacceptable as drink-driving.
Existing laws have for some time made it illegal to make or receive calls or texts on a mobile phone while driving, but this has historically been classed as an example of dangerous driving. However, from 2022 the law will go further and completely ban any sort of use of mobile devices at the wheel, and will make this a specific offence listed in the Highway Code. Smartphone usage in this case now also includes checking social media, changing the song on your playlist, playing games and taking photographs. It is hoped that the new tightened laws will improve spiralling road traffic accident statistics, with road safety charity Brake claiming that using a phone while driving makes you four times more likely to cause an accident.
In the UK, 11 million people have admitted to using a smartphone while in the driver’s seat, and research carried out by the Department of Transport has revealed that younger motorists are more likely to use a mobile handheld device while driving a vehicle. More than one in ten young drivers admit to using their mobile phone to make social media posts of them driving, while another 6% admit to playing a game. Research carried out by motoring association RAC claims that in the 25-34 age bracket, 47% of drivers admit to making and receiving calls at the wheel, but this figure reduces to just 25% for all other age groups.
Improper use of a mobile phone while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle will now see culprits face a fixed penalty of £200 and six points on their driving licence, which police officers can issue on the spot. There is also the possibility that these six points can take some drivers over the 12-point threshold and lead to an automatic ban from driving. Exemptions to the law have also been introduced, however, which allow contactless payments to be carried out via a smartphone while at the wheel of a vehicle, such as when queuing at a Drive-Thru restaurant or at a road toll barrier.
The new rules have been introduced following a 12-week public consultation which found that 81% of people supported the move, and comes in the wake of a succession of road accidents caused by the use of mobile phones. In 2021, the BBC reported on a tragic case involving Steph Cairns’ 14 year-old son Joe, who died after a driver crashed into the back of the minibus which he was travelling in on his way to school. Ms Cairns’ said “it was a 45 minute journey and for 45 minutes that man (the driver) was on his phone on various applications – text messages, phone calls and also on social media playing a game”. The driver was convicted of dangerous driving and jailed for eight years and 10 months.
Mary Williams, the chief executive of Brake, said the changes were "very welcome", while Edmund King, president of the AA motoring association, added: "By making mobile phone use as socially unacceptable as drink-driving, we are taking big steps to make our roads safer.”
If you have been involved in a road traffic accident where you suspect that mobile phone usage could have caused it, you can speak to our experienced personal injury solicitors at Spencers Solicitors. We can also issue advice and information if you wish to fully understand the new road safety laws relating to mobile phone use and how they could affect you, so contact us today.
Laura Reaney is a Paralegal within our Serious Injury Team.
Laura, who joined the team in 1998, originally started as an office junior before training as a Litigator. After gaining extensive experience within personal injury, Laura now specialises in assisting on complex and high value personal injury claims. Over the years she has assisted senior Solicitors in dealing with accident claims involving amputations, serious spinal injuries resulting in permanent disability, brain, head injuries and fatal accidents.
Laura can be contacted on 01246 266679.
Posted in: Personal Injury