03 January 2014
A mobile phone is more than just a phone. For most people nowadays the mobile phone is a vital communication tool, diary, address book, photograph album, phone book and even portable office. Small enough to fit in a pocket, the mobile phone is a lifeline to the rest of the world. And how we love our phones! We spend hours researching the best model of phone for our needs. We lavish care on it, taking time and trouble to find the right size and type of protective phone covers and personalised phone cases. We change the settings, play with the apps and know how to search for the nearest fast-food restaurant with a couple of taps on the screen. Yet surprisingly, despite the amount of time spent on the many aspects of mobile phone ownership, most people are completely unaware of the laws regarding mobile use while driving. We've all seen the drivers careering along the motorway, one hand clamped to their jaw as they chatter away. Texting while waiting for the traffic lights to change seems to be another popular occupation, but that's supposed to all right because you're stationary.
Hand-Held Phones and the Law
Actually, the law is extremely clear on the subject. It is illegal to drive a car or ride a motorbike while using a mobile phone or similar type of hand-held device. For the purposes of the law, the definition of what constitutes 'driving' is very clear – if the engine is running, even when the car is completely stationary, then you are driving and therefore subject to prosecution. You don't even have to be the driver in order to risk prosecution for using a hand-held mobile in a vehicle. If you are supervising a learner driver then the law will treat you as though you were driving the vehicle at the time of the offence.
The Penalties for Breaking the Law
If the police spot you driving while using a hand-held device then they will automatically issue you with a fixed-penalty notice. You will be fined the sum of £100 and receive three penalty points on your driving licence. If the decision is made to take you to court, then you face the prospect of a £1000 fine and the possibility of having your driving licence taken away for a period of time.
Hands-Free Mobile Phones
Don't assume that because you're using a hands-free kit you are immune from prosecution. Research indicates that becoming engrossed in a telephone conversation is distracting for the driver, even using a hands-free option. If the police have reason to believe that your concentration was in any way compromised by telephone use then you can still face penalties. The only times when you are legally permitted to use a hand-held device in your car is when the engine is switched off and you are safely parked, or if you need to call the emergency services and it is not safe for you to stop your vehicle to do so.
Rahima Aktar on Friday, January 03, 2014 · Leave a Comment