Mobile Phones and the Law
by Car Communications – the Hands Free Car Kits Installation Specialists
Avoid penalty charges when using a mobile phone whilst driving
Under the Road Safety Act, from Tuesday 27 February 2007, motorists using hand-held phones at the wheel will face a stiffer penalty – £60 – and three points on their licence. We have compiled a list of the most commonly asked questions that users of mobile phones and hands free car kits have asked.
The mobile phone law - Questions and answers
1. What does the ban mean?
It is a specific offence to use a hand-held phone when driving. 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 motorist can regard driving as meaning a vehicle with the engine running. In simple terms you can use a mobile as long as you don’t hold the phone and you can’t use a hand-held phone if the engine is running.
2. How much is the fine if you get caught using a hand-held mobile when driving?
The fine is £60 and 3 penalty points. Motorists can take the matter to court where the maximum fine is £1000.
(£2,500 for drivers of goods vehicles). Penalty points will also be imposed in courts from 27 February.
3. Can I use a hands free kit while I’m driving?
Yes, but you can only use it if it can be operated without holding the phone. Therefore mobile phones should be placed in cradles which are attached to the dashboard. Pushing buttons is permissible while the phone is in a cradle or on the steering wheel and you don’t hold the phone.
4. Can I use a Bluetooth car kit?
Yes, provided it is operated by pushing a button attached to the dashboard or via voice activation. You must not pick up your handset.
5. Will I still get stopped by police if I am using a hands free kit when driving?
If you are stopped by police and you are using a hands free kit while driving, you can face prosecution under other motoring laws. The police can charge you with driving without due care and attention, not being in proper control of the vehicle or even dangerous driving.
6. Can motorists use navigation equipment, personal digital assistants (PDAs) or other computer equipment that sends or receives data?
In theory yes – providing it is not a hand-held device. The Government guidelines state that use of devices other than mobile phones is only prohibited if the device performs an interactive communication function by sending and receiving data. If the device does not perform this type of function, you can use the device without breaching the regulations.
7. Can I use a hand-held phone when I am stationary in traffic?
No, the regulations state that driving includes time when stopped at traffic lights or during other hold-ups, so you can’t use a hand-held. However, if there was an accident on a motorway, for example, and you are sure you won’t move, then you could turn the engine off and then use the phone legally.
8. Can I make emergency calls?
There is an exemption for making 999 calls to the emergency services where it is unsafe or impractical to stop.
9. Who do the regulations apply to?
The regulations apply to drivers of all motor vehicles, including, cars, motorcycles, goods vehicles, buses, coaches and taxis. They also apply to anyone supervising a learner driver, while the learner is driving.
10. Are employers guilty of an offence if their employees use a hand-held phone while driving?
The regulations apply to anyone who causes or permits any other person to use a handheld phone while driving. Under Department for Transport guidelines, they consider that employers would not be liable just because they supplied a telephone or because they phoned an employee who was driving. However, employers would probably be liable if they required their employees to use a hand-held phone while driving and might also be liable if they failed to forbid employees to use such phones on company business.
Increasing concern about corporate manslaughter and the likelihood of the Health and Safety Executive becoming involved in cases where a business driver has a fatal accident means that many companies are becoming tough on drivers who use mobile phones. Some are even banning the use of hands free phones by employees.
11. What are the insurance implications if motorists are caught using mobile phones when driving?
In theory, an insurance company could refuse to pay for damage to your own car if you were breaking the law at the time of the accident (this could include using a mobile phone).
The effects on your insurance if you have an accident could include loss of no claim bonus which would result in an insurance premium increase by at least 50 per cent.
Some insurance companies increase premiums for drivers with penalty points. From 27 February this means that breaking the mobile phone law will not only cost a fine and points, but could also increase your premium.
A number of convictions, such as drink driving and dangerous driving may result in cover being refused or a significant financial penalty being applied.
12. The police do not bother to enforce the law, and many, many people break it – I see them on every journey. Do I really need to comply?
That is your choice. But Car Communications would point out that in the first year of the law 77,000 drivers were caught and fined. The three points will hurt drivers more than a fine, and we know that with the points will come a whole new enforcement approach.
Our advisors are always on hand to help you make informed decisions about any aspect of mobile phone hands free car kits. Call us today on 0845 22 66 454 or visit our website at www.CarCommunications.co.uk