USING A HAND HELD MOBILE PHONE WHILST DRIVING A VEHICLE IS A CRIMINAL OFFENCE UNDER THE ROAD TRAFFIC ACT 1988 - PART II
SHOCKING STATISTICS FOR 2011*
- 26 DEATHS AS A DIRECT RESULT OF USING A MOBILE PHONE WHILE DRIVING A VEHICLE
- 350 ACCIDENTS CAUSED AS A DIRECT RESULT OF USING A MOBILE PHONE WHILE DRIVING
IF YOU ARE CONVICTED OF USING A MOBILE PHONE WHILST DRIVING A VEHICLE, YOU MUST INFORM YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY BY LAW. THIS MAY RESULT IN AN INCREASED INSURANCE PREMIUM OF AT LEAST 30% IN ADDITION TO A £60 FINE AND 3 PENALTY POINTS
*Source - Automobile Association (AA)
Hand held mobile phone laws and driving offences involving use of a mobile phone
Since 1st December 2003 it has been a specific offence to use a hand held mobile phone while driving. From February 2007, drivers caught using a mobile phone while driving have received a £60 fine PLUS three penalty points on their licence. In December 2007, new guidance was issued stating that those involved in more serious accidents would also be charged with dangerous driving and face a prison sentence of up to two years.
Prosecution and court
If an individual refuses to accept the fixed penalty, or the officer who stopped the driver feels that the offence committed was so severe that a fixed penalty is simply inadequate, then the case may end up in court. If this happens fines will almost certainly be larger and disqualification is also possible. The maximum fine in a court is £1000. If the driver is driving a bus or a goods vehicle the maximum fine is £2500.
Serious offences using a hand held mobile phones when driving
The above offences apply if the driver is seen using a phone. If there is an accident, or careless driving has been witnessed while the phone is being used, drivers can also be prosecuted for careless driving or dangerous driving. In the worst case scenario, if someone is killed, they may also be prosecuted for causing death by careless or dangerous driving. If a death is caused, fines can be much greater, and a prison sentence becomes almost certain.
Hands free mobile phones
Hands free mobile mobiles are excluded from the above, however if a driver is seen not to be in control of a vehicle while using a hands free phone they can still be prosecuted for the offence just as if they were using a hand held phone.
Employers (or other callers)
Employers may be open to prosecution if:
• they cause or allow an employee to drive while using a phone or to not have proper control of the vehicle
• they require an employee to use a phone whilst driving
• an employer may be liable if an employee drives dangerously because they are using a phone installed by the employer
Cyclists using mobile phones
It is not an offence to cycle and use a hand held mobile phone, however it is still possible to be prosecuted for careless or dangerous cycling.
Calls may be made to 999 or 112 (the Eurpean Union universal emergency number) in a genuine emergency where stopping is unsafe or impractical.
Other devices that send or receive data, such as hand held internet devices are not exempt, however one exception is a two way radio (devices used by Police and other law enforcement organisations).
Mobile phone use - Guidelines
• IT IS ILLEGAL to use a hand held mobile phone while driving OR while stopped with the engine switched on (this also applies to a hand held mobile phones on loud speaker - having the phone on loud speaker does not make you exempt from the law and any penalties you acquire). This applies to any use of the phone, for example making/receiveing calls, using the internet, using smartphone apps and texting at the wheel.
• If you have a hands-free phone, stop to make or take a call. If this is not practical leave it to voicemail. If you really must talk keep conversations short and tell the caller you will find a safe and legal place to stop and phone back. By using a hands free mobile phone while driving, although you are not breaking the law, you are putting yourself at an increased risk of committing other offences caused through lack of concentration.
• Employers should issue specific company advice on mobile phone use as part of their internal contractual policies and procedures.
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