Using a Mobile Phone and Driving 2022 – The Do’s and Don’ts
Most people will have an awareness that it is not a good idea to use a phone whilst driving. Cars can be dangerous, phones distracting, and the mix of the two can easily become a tragedy or life changing event. However, phones are not just phones anymore. Whilst they can still be used for conventional voice calls the reality is that they are equally likely to be used for video calls, texting, browsing the internet, taking photographs, taking videos, operating as a satellite navigation device, and even purchasing food from a drive through restaurant! Furthermore, whilst some of these activities may require the phone to be handheld, others do not.
So, where does that leave the 2022 motorist? What, if any, interaction is a driver allowed to have with their phones whilst in charge of their car and undertaking any of the above?
Making a Call or Texting
First, the easy part. It is illegal to make a telephone call, or to text, using a handheld device whilst driving unless it is an emergency.
If a driver does either of these things, they could, at the very least, be charged with an offence of using a mobile phone whilst driving and landed with a hefty fine and 6 points on their licence.
Hands free use of a telephone is not illegal per se. However, even then a driver must always remain in full control of their vehicle. If they are distracted by their usage of a phone during a hands free call they could face a charge of careless driving for which 3 – 9 penalty points, a fine and/or disqualification could be imposed.
Taking Photos or Videos
Taking photos, videos and/or scrolling through playlists or playing games on a handheld device whilst driving are all against the law.
It is important to note that the definition of driving does not necessarily require a car to be moving. It is also illegal for a driver to use their mobile phone to do any of the above whilst at a traffic light or in a traffic jam.
However, and assuming that they are not handheld, there is no prohibition on the use of dashcams whilst driving to take videos or photos, so long as they do not cause an obstruction and/or a driver is not distracted by them.
Using a Phone as a Sat Nav
Drivers can still use their phone as a sat nav whilst driving, however, this is only allowed if it is secured in a cradle, is not touched whilst driving and does not block a driver’s view of the road.
Drivers wishing to use their mobile phone as a sat nav must also ensure that it is only operated through Bluetooth and voice commands or, alternatively, set up manually and entered on to a cradle before any driving is commenced.
A driver can be prosecuted for touching their phone whilst driving so this precludes holding it and using it as a sat nav and/or scrolling for directions whilst driving.
Paying with your Phone
Drivers are allowed to use their phone to pay for goods at drive through restaurants or at a road toll booth. However, when paying with their phone the vehicle must be stationary and the goods and services for immediate collection. Therefore, there is no general exemption allowing a motorist to make any other type of payment.
The law is now stricter than ever when it comes to mobile phone usage and driving.
The simple position is that, save for an emergency, a driver should not be touching their phone whilst in the driver’s seat of their vehicle unless they are safely parked and the ignition switched off.
LYONS DAVIDSON SOLICITORS