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  • New drivers caught using phones to lose licence

    March 15, 2017 | Blog
  • Drivers caught using a phone within two years of passing their test will have their licence revoked under new rules in England, Scotland and Wales.

    Penalties for using a phone at the wheel double from 1 March to six points and a £200 fine.

    New drivers who get six points or more must retake their practical and theory. More experienced drivers can be banned if they get 12 points in three years.

    The tougher punishments come alongside a hard-hitting advertising campaign.

    In 2015 – the latest year for which figures are available – 22 people were killed and 99 seriously injured in accidents where a driver was using their phone.

    Police forces have begun a seven day crackdown, with extra patrols and an “increased focus” on stopping people using their phones while driving.

    Can I check social media or texts if I’m queuing in traffic or stopped at traffic lights?

    No – a hand held phone cannot be used, even if stopped at lights. Texting and scrolling social media (even if the phone is mounted on a hands-free holder) is distracting and dangerous. It doesn’t come under the handheld mobile phone law but the police may decide to charge you with a number of other offences.

    Can I use my phone to listen to music, play podcasts or watch video clips?

    You can’t watch video clips – not even if your phone is mounted in a hands-free holder.

    You can use your phone to listen to music and podcasts but only if your phone is in a hands-free holder or connected by Bluetooth.

    However, just as you can be distracted by the noise of a car radio, if it affects your ability to drive safely, you could still be prosecuted by the police.

    Can I use my phone’s sat nav?

    Yes – as long as the phone is mounted in a hands-free holder. If it’s in your hands, it’s illegal.

    However, if you are distracted by the sat nav and it affects your ability to drive safely, you could still be prosecuted by the police.

    Can I pull over to check my phone?

    Yes, providing you are safely parked with the engine switched off, you can pull into a lay-by or pull up on a single yellow line (providing there are no road markings showing restrictions at that time).

    What counts as hands-free?

    A dashboard holder or cradle, earphones or a Bluetooth connection. It is illegal to use hand-held microphones or to hold your phone out on loudspeaker.

    Smart watches and voice-activated software are legal, but again can be a distraction, and the driver may be liable for other offences.

    So what can I do on my phone?

    You can only use your phone in your hands if you are safely parked. The only exception is if you need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it is unsafe or impractical to stop.

    What about learner drivers?

    The same rules apply, and it is also illegal to use a hand-held phone or similar device when supervising a learner driver or motorcycle rider.

    Source: Department for Transport.