Driving and Mobile Phones – The Rules Have Changed

4th April 2022 Posted in Blogs

On 25th March 2022, the laws on people using mobile phones whilst driving became stricter, but you might be wondering how? isn’t mobile phone use already illegal whilst on the road? You’d be right of course, legislation already exists making the use of a mobile phone whilst driving illegal and this has been in place since 2003. So why the need for the change? 

The pace of technology since then has accelerated considerably and mobile phones are now capable of performing many more tasks than simply making calls and sending messages including gaming, photography, web browsing, watching and creating video content, reading, and multiple forms of communication which simply did not exist when the legislation was put in place. The Government said the “array of functions that mobile phones can now perform has outgrown the wording of the offence and its parameters”.

The change was also triggered by a recent case whereby a driver who was filming a nearby road accident whilst at the eel was found not guilty because they were not using a handheld mobile phone for ‘interactive communication’ the government now considers that ‘ all use of a hand held mobile phone whilst driving is reckless and dangerous and not just when being used for the purposes of a call or other interactive communication’ 

So what do drivers need to know? 

The new law will amend the 1986 Regulations and will mean the offence is triggered whenever a driver holds and uses a device, regardless of why they are holding it.

Explanatory notes state the offence “will cover any device which is capable of interactive communication even if that functionality is not enabled at the time.

This would include a device being in flight mode.

The meaning of using a mobile phone is now expanded to include the following

  • illuminating the screen
  • checking the time
  • checking notifications
  • unlocking the device
  • making, receiving or rejecting a telephone or internet-based call
  • sending, receiving or uploading oral or written content
  • sending, receiving or uploading a photo or video
  • utilising the camera, video, or sound recording
  • drafting any text
  • accessing any stored data such as documents, books, audio files, photos, videos, films, playlists, notes or messages
  • accessing an app
  • accessing the internet

Exemptions include 

  • Making a contactless payment so long as the vehicle is stationary
  • Using a mobile phone for navigation continues to be legal so long as the phone is kept in a cradle and not in the driver’s hand. 
  • Using a mobile phone for navigation continues to be legal so long as the phone is kept in a cradle and not in the driver’s hand.

What do employers need to do now?

The new rules took effect on 25th March 2022 and all employers have a clear legal duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Management of Health and Safety at Work regulations to manage occupational road risks as part of their wider responsibilities. Employers must produce and effectively communicate a policy for the management of road safety which includes the new rules on mobile phone use. 

Need guidance on your road safety policies? we can help – get in touch for a free consultation today! 

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