While I’m sometimes dismissive of a handful of new driving regulations, and feel that the authorities are too reliant on using technology to ‘spy’ on us, without discretion, lenience or the ability to put our case, there does come a time when they seem to get things right.
Until recently, to be prosecuted for using a mobile phone at the wheel, you had to be using the device for communication – text messaging or calls etc, and although there are circumstances that could see you prosecuted for using the phone for other uses, they were in the minority.
In 2018, a member of the public was convicted for using his phone to film the aftermath of a road accident while driving through it, he appealed the conviction in the High Court and was cleared. Lady Justice Thirlwall said: “The legislation does not prohibit all use of a mobile phone held while driving.”
“It prohibits driving while using a phone for calls and other interactive communication – and holding it at some stage during that process.”
Closing the loophole
Research by the RAC has shown that 17% of UK drivers admit to checking their phones for texts, emails and social media while driving, and 35% of the under-25s regularly do so.
In 2017, there were 773 incidents of road traffic collisions where the driver using a mobile phone was to blame, this includes 43 fatalities, and 135 serious injuries. Clearly, the drastic cut in police numbers (just under 30% in a decade) has exacerbated the problem.
But similar to a number of other legal actions and processes, the authorities are now turning to technology to enforce new regulations; new HD cameras that use a combination of ‘sophisticated algorithms’ and artificial intelligence to determine whether a driver is using their phone, and it won’t matter for what reason.
Highways England are currently trialling hi-tech cameras that attach to the overhead gantries, and are capable of automatically detecting, photographing, and sending to the relevant authorities, hi-def pictures showing the driver using their phone; a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) will shortly follow.
Similar systems trialled in Australia earlier this year, caught more than 100,000 motorists trying to cheat the system (in just six months), and it’s hoped that there will be similar results in the UK. A spokesman for the Department of Transport (DfT) said that “some very early trial work on technology to detect mobile phone usage on the strategic road network is in place” and the results were encouraging.
The end of the Police
While this is yet another nail in the coffin for the police, with the government outsourcing more processes to technology, you’d have to argue that while technology may have many, wonderful uses, policing the roads to this extent shouldn’t really be one of them.
The reliance on tech means that the government (and it really doesn’t matter which one) can almost justify the decrease in numbers, spending and budget; with ‘criminals’ being caught 24/7 through the use of cameras, why should they spend more money on actual human resource to get the job done?
But this is a very short-sighted view (but would we expect anything less?) from the ministers and politicians – there will come a day when cars virtually police themselves; they already have the technology to adjust speeds, and of course when they’re fully autonomous, accidents will be fewer, speeding will be albeit impossible, and it won’t matter whether you’re making calls, sending video messages or updating your social media.
So then we could perhaps turn to other ‘real’ crime, except that the numbers of police will have dwindled so much, and the expertise in catching criminals forgotten, and the ‘thin blue line’ will be so thin, as to be non-existent.
Technology may be great for simple, repetitive and mundane tasks such as catching motorists flouting the law, but not great for chasing down the burglar running from a crime scene, or stopping the drug dealer from handing out parcels of junk on the street corner, for this, we need human resource.
Breaking the law
I’m genuinely pleased that the tech exists to catch drivers using mobile phones (for whatever reason), I think they’re a scourge of our society, and repeat offenders should actually lose their licence, but the politicians, law makers and authorities need to understand that motoring crimes aren’t the be all and end all.
Any monies saved through the use of technology should be fed back into the system to develop further resource, not be seen as a bonus to pay the politicians for sleeping in the Commons.
What do you think to the tech? Should repeat offenders lose their privilege to drive? Are the authorities heading down a slippery slope? Let us know in the comments.
“Using a mobile phone while driving stock photo” by DPP Law is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
No, everyone should give a skoda! Once blutoothed, you can’t fiddle with the phone!
im not sure how, if at all, thats even possible, without a special app is needed to connect to the car via bluetooth, but id bet that the car has a touchscreen stereo unit, that can mimic the screen on the phone if it can block fiddling with the phone, so its a bit pointless really!
Agree completely on all comments you made especially about the power that be using increasing technology as an excuse for keeping Police numbers low to the detriment of us all.
However what is the difference between holding a mobile ‘phone in your car and holding a cigarette/can of drink/sandwich. All these are a distraction from keeping proper control of a vehicle yet as far as I know are not prohibited.
If caught by the police eating or drinking whilst driving you can be charged. But a, it is unlikely that you will see a member of the police force, and b, if you did they would probably turn a blind eye as it is to much paperwork. As for cigarettes etc they should be banned alltogether, but thats for another discussion.
It’s not against the law to eat or drink whilst driving.
This case says otherwise – https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2005/jan/25/ukcrime.martinwainwright
No it doesn’t, She was prosecuted for not being in proper control (as she performed a left turn with one hand occupied by an apple – which she hadn’t eaten).
maybe not directly, but driving without due care and attention can cover a multitude of sins
Not sure why you’ve been down-voted, you’re absolutely correct. And the case below was about control of the vehicle which may have been carried out one-handed in the notorious case of the heavy handed police response to a woman with an apple in her hand. She was not prosecuted for the act of eating or drinking whole driving, there’s no such offence.
I agree, Pete. Smoking should be completely forbidden. And car companies have to eliminate the lighter in their vehicles. I never understood why they install a lighter.
What is the reason they want the drivers smoke in the car?
You don’t talk to a can of coke . Distraction level is different
Make it law that when mobile phones are in a vehicle they must be carried in a pouch that will not allow them to pick up a signal therefore making them useless until removed from the pouch. Allow Police to carry out random stop search to ensure that phones are held in pouches and prosecute anyone breaking the law. But make the penalty severely harsh so that offenders are put off ever doing so again.
My wife sits in the passenger seat and we use her phone Sat Nav so some phones need not be in bags. Lets be clear if you are not at the wheel the law does not apply.
I also use my phone as my satnav device and don’t see how this is any different from using a satnav screen fitted to a car as original equipment. How can this be differentiated from making a call?
Theres no problem using hands free. I use mine for music and gps . It sits in a holder. Most cars have that built in now
We used to have the death penalty, people still murdered , just saying
Put your head in a pouch . Talking over the phone even over the hands free is distracting. , so let say if your call takes longer than 30 sec I’ll suggest to pull over in a safe place and have a chat. People that stop in random places , on hazards making a phone call are stupid. Times has changed, if you missed call , you can call back when safe . It’s INCLUDED in your plan
And two kids misbehaving in the back isn’t distracting?
Apparently not, along with fiddling with the radio, changing the CD, or dogs jumping around & barking. Selective legislation it would seem.
In need my phone for my business and if it rings I pull over to answer it or call the person back. A pouch would be no good to me.
Nanny state again. Wont be long before pilots and captains won’t be able to touch any button.
It’s no good fining offenders it’s only small amounts of money, They should take the phone and destroy it, With the silly prices of these things they may think first before risking losing their favorite toy. B
Most cars nowadays are equipped with what I consider to be televisions. Touch screen systems for hifi , gps, in car environment, Bluetooth. There just as complex as a smart phone . I use my smart phone for GPS when I need it and it sits in a dashboard mounted holder (not on the windscreen which is shockingly done by many) is that any different to touch screen controlled screen built in to the car? Why on earth would you hold your phone in one hand to make a call while driving . Phones are designed for handsfree use – hammer the hand holders , leave the dashboard mounters alone.
My phone stops receiving communications due to something on the phone that stops it ( iPhone XR)
Why don’t all phones have that , it’s a simple fix better than spending millions due to accidents/ deaths , tail backs , so on and forth
My iPhone 6s has been telling me the last few days that it won’t receive notifications when in the car. Simple but effective and my car has Bluetooth hands free built in so I can re dive calls. I’ve never made a call when driving but I would have to select who to call on screen so no way.
It’s called don’t disturb while driving 😀
It’s all about the money honey, just like the camera vans,
Let’s all hide the facts behind the word safety
After all the easiest way to pay the deficit is to penalise the hard pressed law abiding motorists, easy targets
So when motoring does become fully automated who are they going to fleece all the revenue off then ????
I’m all for morons losing their licence for phone use.
‘law abiding motorists’ are not at risk from law enforcement, and will be safer when the minority are dissuaded, by whatever means necessary.
I am generally all for it, but there are some fuzzy bits. What is the position regarding SatNav instruments. Are they to be put out of reach whilst driving and if so what if a mobile phone is only being used for direction finding? Or are stand alone music players touchable but again what if they are incorporated into a telephone?
Are they going to ban the use & operation of sat navs whilst driving? If not then what’s the difference in using and operating a phone with a sat nav app? And is there any difference ‘fiddling’ with a car radio or even talking to a passenger? Going down this route it’ll be possible to drive anywhere.
What if the wife is in the car also?…
She never shuts up
All mobile phones should have bluetooth built in as mandatory because most new cars are geared up to make/receive calls with a touch of a button.Hand held phones will become a thing of the past. Fines should be £2,000 minimum
Don’t all phones have blue tooth, even my old Nokia flip has it and I was using that more than 10 years ago. My 7 year old Focus has voice controls so apart from activating it from a steering wheel mounted control, all the rest is spoken commands. Incoming calls are automatically accepted after a few rings so again no need to touch anything.
How about using one’s mobile as a sat nav? Whilst I have a sat nav, I wonder how many people use their mobile in this manner.
My phone is my satnav. Once it’s set it’s set. But if the original route offered has a problem, I am offered a different route. And I have to ‘touch’ the handset to accept . Is this the same?
And what about the ‘Police Officers that pick up the microphone handset to advise Control that they are in pursuit of a driver they have seen touching his/her phone handset. Are they not as equally guilty?
It’s long been allowed to hold a microphone that’s attached to a radio whilst driving. I recall a suggestion of a combined telephone and CB radio, never saw one in production though. That would be an interesting case to appeal.
some IRN phones have PTT buttons and speaker mics, and have digital radio modes built in. They are a two way radios with an android phone built in.That blurs the lines somewhat!
It is lawful to operate a communications radio mic whilst driving, but you must be aware of “due care and attention”
If I remember correctly the mobile phone law related to the operating frequency of the radio. So mobiles were banned but CB and ham radio and taxi radios were not covered.
Passenger usage of the phone or its use by either driver or passenger using Bluetooth- where does that feature – especially if you use the vehicle’s controls? This is a question And not a point of argument so rants not necessary!
Most of the car bluetooth kits have the microphone nearer the driver than the passenger. So a bad idea for the passenger. Unless the driver is deaf.
Google maps are on my phone..I use mine for navigation ONLY ,hands free …no calls,no texts,no social media whilst driving….end of!!
People have become so dependant on their mobile phones nowadays, they are almost like a life support machine to them!! How did we all manage before the days of mobiles?? Routes were planned using a road atlas! If somebody wanted to get hold of us they left a message or tried again later! The scourge that is Faceache (or whatever it’s called) didn’t exist, turning peope into phone zombies!! I find it quite funny watching people in the gym trying to do a workout whilst clutching their little toy (I mean their mobile) in one hand waiting for the next update or message to come through!! I even followed one idiot on his bike, headphones on so he was oblivious to my car behind him, phone in one hand & his other hand in his pocket, presumably keeping it warm, but I could be wrong!!! I’ve had pedestrians walk out in front of me whilst they have been zombified on their mobile & even had them walk into me whilst I’ve been walking. Don’t just ban the use of mobiles by drivers whilst driving, ban the use of mobiles by cyclists whilst cycling & pedestrians whilst walking! Life’s more important than your phone or Faceache profile & there is life beyond mobile phones!!!! Is that message or call really that important???
May I ask, if your playing music through your phone into the car system is that also classed as using your phone while driving ??
what about using maps & satnav on phones?
With modern technology most modern cars can mirror your phones screen and functions on their own integrated displays so you can browse, watch, text, call etc to your hearts content without laying a finger on your actual phone.
I am aware that manufacturers have safety features to limit the amount of use while the vehicle is running but these are easily circumvented with a quick google.
In theory, not a terrible idea. However, new cars are getting increasingly sophisticated touch screen tech built in. Mobile phones are designed to be used hands free and can connect to said cars.
Two points come to mind here:
1) why would you need to handle your phone when you’re actually driving it? And
2) would the same distraction level apply to messing about with the cars’ system?
Sir Alec Issigonis had the right idea when he designed the Morris Minor and the Mini, (the REAL one not this modern BMW monstrosity). No provision even for a radio because it would distract the driver! Lol
i agree with this to the point of where do we draw the line? most cars have touch screen entertainment/satnav units, so the radio, heater etc are often ALL controlled by the car touch screen rather than physical buttons, the phone screen can also be mirrored ontoo the cars touchscreen using modern cars and phones, are these to be banned too? in my opinion if we ban even TOUCHING a phone (for example to change volume of sat nav in an unexpectedly noisy area which, not being local you couldnt POSSIBLY know about) then these touch screen units in cars shuld ALL be forcibly recalled and replaced with proper units with proper buttons!
im all for stopping STUPID use of phones (most younger people especially, and from what i see online, predominantly females in the over 35 age bracket, seem unable to leave their phones for more than 30 seconds without posting on some social media site or other) but there is also a point where common sense and the fact that the tech is also in the cars already, and has to be touched for the factory unit to operate, that sense has to prevail.
the best idea EVER that was once put to me was, ‘why dont they just go back to making all mobile phones for phone calls and remove all this internet acces rubbish where it belongs, at home, or in an office’? which to me is a fair point. if you cant last the time a journey takes withut using your social media etc, then you have some very serious mental health issues!
Phones should have been taken away from the start and crushed with all that they contain there would not be any problem with mobile phone use when driving now if that had happened
Two adults plus children and maybe a dog. Is this not a distraction. I’m not trying to justify the actions against phone users but there are many more examples.
What exactly does the law say about using a physical satnav or using the satnav app on the phone. What is the difference?
Actually they don’t want to make it illegal, they set the fine on what they think is an acceptable level like a couple of hundred quid because they know people will take the risk. So it’s another convenient revenue generating scheme. Let’s face it if they wanted to stop it then they would set the fine at £5,000 or more. Who would take the risk then? Also there is the question of police officer using hand held devices in their vehicles. There isn’t always two officers in a vehicle and they do use hand held radios and phones in a vehicle. So they have to word any law carefully.
Why put Google maps on a phone if we’re not allowed to swipe it or even touch it.? Yet another money grabbing scheme by the government
It’s fine by me, anyone who uses their phone whilst the car is moving, is stupid.
I keep mine in a holder and use it for GPS. Only time I’ll interact with it is when the handbrake is on and the gear is in neutral.
If the engine is still running, that’s considered as driving. Furthermore, supermarket car parks etc are now considered the public highway even though they are privately owned. This was introduced because of people using private car parks as race tracks.
Interesting comments from everyone, but I would like to ask how many of those of you objecting so strongly and offering strict punishments and moral arguments ever do more than 70 on a motorway? The law is the law is it not?
I am a retired A&E nurse and anything that stops the use of mobile phones whilst driving, is a great idea as far as I am concerned. Heavy fines and points should be applied and I would phone a dedicated number, to report the cars registration number of anyone I see using a mobile whilst driving. In the same way as I would report any other crime being committed. The technology exists to check the veracity of any reports made and this is another good reason for having a camera on your car
I had the dubious pleasure of riding in a Citroen with a bloody great screen that is not only distracting because of the amount of light it gives out but the amount of time the driver spent fiddling with the damn thing!
My phone has a message that pops up along the lines of ‘It appears you are driving, a text message will be sent to any callers explaining the situation’ – and it doesn’t work until I stop. Pretty cool, eh?
Anything that distracts a driver should be banned from use. Even fiddling with a built in radio should come under this law as well.
Any motoring action which could lead to the death of another road user, should lead automatically to a driving ban, I don’t understand why drivers with more than twelve points are still driving, some even with over twenty points, what possible reason is there for allowing those persons to continue driving?
I use my phone as a SATNAV, how does the camera know the difference between a SATNAV and a phone being used as a SATNAV?
So when will they be banning the Tesla and other similar vehicles that have replaced knobs and switches with a huge touch screen in the middle of the car? How is that any more safe than fiddling with a phone?
It’s all very well having the hands connected to the steering wheel but if the brain isn’t connected to the hands it’s just as much of a hazard. Therefore hands free external communication should also be banned under the same legislation.
Stealth tax anybody?
I just don’t understand all this, ever since the late 90s I have had a hands free phone by one means or another. I also don’t feel the need to be communicating constantly, the car is often a haven away form all such distractions. But every day I see people using hand held phones, maybe veering all over the road while doing so. There isn’t even a particular type of person who does this, from posh ladies in Range Rovers to builders in scruffy vans to phone obsessed yoofs who probably can’t even sleep without a phone in their hand. You could get the impression sometimes that it is like a badge of office, doesn’t impress me much. Why is it that these people cannot see how dangerous this is?
So how about a year’s driving ban for using a hand held phone whilst driving? Maybe also a compulsory attendance at a fatal car crash? Second offence a year in jail followed by a driving ban?
It boils my blood when I see any driver using a mobile phone whilst driving and I see far too many of them! I own a mobile phone but NEVER use it while driving. Would you wake up in the middle of the night to answer your phone? I certainly wouldn’t!
However, the majority of people leaving replies on here seem to be ignoring the facts of the number of fatalities and severely injured caused by mobile phone use whilst driving. If one of these was a relative of yours, your priorities may be different!
As far as I am concerned, they should immediately be given a driving ban! This is not a new law so they cannot plead ignorance. It’s the only way that other drivers and even pedestrians can be assured of 1 less criminal on our roads!
Caught again! Lock them up and throw away the key!
Introduce legislation to require all new vehicles to have a bluetooth, hands free facility.
I totally agree to ban the use of phones in any way as well as eating or drinking on the wheel.
All of these attitudes are a distraction of the driving. And a serious danger on the roads.