Research suggests that if you are using a mobile phone while driving you are four times more likely to be involved in an accident.
Other research has shown that driver’s reaction times are up to 50% slower than normal when driving and using a mobile phone and that your reaction times are 30% worse than when driving under the influence of alcohol.
It is dangerous because a telephone conversation (or texting) distracts from the mental concentration needed to drive safely. You put yourself and other road users in danger.
This advert demonstrates the danger of being distracted on the phone while driving
What is the law about mobile phones while driving?
It is illegal to drive a vehicle or ride a motorbike and use a hand held mobile phone or similar device. It is also illegal to supervise a learner and use a hand-held phone. Hands-free phones are also a distraction and you risk prosecution for not having proper control of a vehicle if the police see you driving poorly while using one.
- A hand held device is something that “is or must be held at some point during the course of making or receiving a call or performing any other interactive communication function.”
- A device “similar” to a mobile phone includes a device that can be used for sending or receiving spoken or written messages, sending or receiving still or moving images or providing Internet access.
If you accept a roadside fixed penalty notice, you will receive 3 points on your licence and a fine of £60. If a case goes to court, in addition to points, you could face discretionary disqualification on top a maximum fine of £1,000 (or £2,500 in the case of drivers of buses/coaches and goods vehicles).
What should you do?
The best course of action is to turn your mobile phone off; then it will not cause a distraction and you will not be tempted to use it. Even when using a phone ‘hands-free’ there is an increased risk of distraction and your responses to hazards on the road are slower.
If you are an employer you have a responsibility for the safety and welfare of your staff, so ensure that they know to turn their phones off when driving. If they are using a phone whilst driving for work, you could be liable.
If you need to use your phone, find a safe place to stop. Do not use the phone whilst in traffic and do not stop on the hard shoulder of a motorway.
Mobile Phone Offences
This is an offence under Section 41D of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and carries the maximum penalty up to £1,000 for car drivers (£2,500 for HGV and passenger vehicles carrying over 8 passengers) and 3 penalty points.
On 27th February 2007, the minimum penalty for holding a mobile phone while driving was increased from a £30 fixed penalty fine to a £60 fine and 3 penalty points on your licence.
Thames Valley Police believe education is a major influence on driver attitudes and behaviour and are therefore the first police force in the country to offer the opportunity to attend a Call Divert Scheme Workshop lasting 2½ hours as an alternative to a fine and penalty points.
Q. Am I entitled to have this dealt with by fixed penalty?
A. The fixed penalty is a conditional offer. If you have more than 8 points already on your licence or you do not hold a UK driving licence your offence will be dealt with at court.
Q. How many points do I get on my licence if I accept a fixed penalty and how much is the fine?
A. Currently the offence carries 3 penalty points and the fixed fine is £60. A Magistrates Court has the discretion to impose between 3 and 6 points and a fine up to £1000.
Q. Will I be offered an education course instead of points?
A. The option of a course rather than points is not available to everyone. If it is the first offence that you have committed in the last three years you are likely to be eligible.
Q. What will the Call Divert Workshop cost?
A. The 2½ hour workshop will cost £77 including VAT. This is instead of a fixed penalty of £60 and three penalty points.
Q. Where will the workshops be held?
A. They will be held at three training centres in the Thames Valley; Crowthorne, Berkshire; Upper Heyford near Bicester, Oxfordshire and Kiln Farm near Milton Keynes. This scheme is managed by our training providers DriveTech (UK) plc who also run our speed awareness and driver improvement schemes.
Q. What happens next?
A. If you are eligible for the course you will shortly receive a letter from Thames Valley Police offering you the chance to attend a workshop. If you do not wish to attend, you will receive a fixed penalty fine of £60 and 3 penalty points on your licence or the opportunity to go to court.
Q. When do you get your licence back?
A. Your licence will automatically be returned to you by post either after you have successfully completed a Call Divert Workshop, paid your fine or attended court.
If you would like more information on the course please visit http://www.thamesvalleycds.com/