Confusion Over New Mobile Phone Laws

Thu 3rd Mar 2022

Stricter new laws on the use of mobile phones while driving are to come into play later this month, but some drivers are questioning the rules amid some grey areas.

The new rules forbid drivers from handling their phone for any reason at all, whereas previously many had escaped punishment as they were spotted touching their phone, but the letter of the law stated that you had to be making a call or sending a text. That law has been extended now to include use of phone for satnav, changing a music track or any engagement at all, with a six point penalty and £200 fine for anyone caught out.

However, many drivers do use their mobile phone while driving, but rather than holding the phone, they have it held in a cradle or on a mount, which is technically replacing some of the functions of a car’s own touchscreen infotainment system.

It’s a grey area, but many drivers are worried that they will be punished when the new laws come into place on March 25. But the Department for Transport have issued a statement to clear up the confusion saying: “Drivers will still be able to continue using a device 'hands-free' while driving, such as a sat-nav, if it's secured in a cradle. 

“They must, however, always take responsibility for their driving and can be charged with an offence if the police find them not to be in proper control of their vehicle.

“The new updates to the law cover hand-held mobile phone use only.'

“However, there are multiple distinct offences which could apply when a driver is distracted by using a phone in a cradle – and would need to be considered on a case-by-case basis.

“Where a driver uses a mobile phone but does not at any point while driving pick it up, that activity is covered by wider road traffic law regarding distraction.

“As with any other form of distraction, the police could take enforcement action if they consider that the driver's level of driving has suffered.”