The Government will close a legal loophole that allows drivers to escape prosecution for hand-held mobile phone use while behind the wheel.
Under the current rules drivers are not permitted to use a hand-held mobile phone to call or text, but drivers have evaded prosecution for filming or taking photos while driving as it is not classed as ‘interactive communication’.
The revised legislation will mean any driver caught texting, taking photos, browsing the internet or scrolling through a playlist while behind the wheel will be prosecuted for using a hand-held mobile phone while driving.
This is in response to the Transport Committee’s recommendation that the law be clarified to cover all hand-held usage, irrespective of whether this involves sending or receiving data.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he will urgently take forward a review to tighten up the existing law preventing hand-held mobile use while driving: “We recognise that staying in touch with the world while travelling is an essential part of modern day life but we are also committed to making our roads safe.
“Drivers who use a hand-held mobile phone are hindering their ability to spot hazards and react in time – putting people’s lives at risk.
“We welcome the Transport Select Committee’s report, and share their drive to make our roads even safer which is why this review will look to tighten up the existing law to bring it into the 21st century, preventing reckless driving and reduce accidents on our roads.”
The Government previously given no indication it intended to change mobile phone laws after a driver won his case in the High Court.
Nick Lloyd, head of Road Safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said: “Drivers who use their phones are up to four times more likely to crash, RoSPA highlighted this loop hole in the summer and is delighted that such prompt action is being taken to ensure that all hand-held mobile phone use is to be prohibited, making our roads safer for all.”
While Ministers have also announced that they will consider the current penalties in place for hand-held mobile phone use, there are no plans to ban hands-free phone use.
Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, added: “Far too many people still use their phone behind the wheel, yet it should be as unacceptable as drink driving, with research showing that reaction times whilst texting are double those of drink-drivers. We will continue to press the future new Government for further action to tackle the menace of mobile phone use behind the wheel.”