Legal Loophole That Allows Drivers To Avoid Fine If Found Touching Phone Will End Next Month
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A legal loophole that has allowed drivers to avoid a fine if caught touching their phone is due to come to an end next month, with motorists now facing a £200 fixed penalty notice and six points on their license.
At the moment, drivers will only get penalised if they use a handheld device for ‘interactive communication’ while on the road.
This means that those using their phones to take pictures or record videos, take a selfie or scroll through music can avoid a fine or points on their license.
However, from early next year, this is all set to change, with the government revising the Highway Code to explain the new measures following a public consultation.
According to the Mirror, it is understood that the loophole will be closed in mid-January.
The outlet adds that there will an exemption to the new law for drivers making a contactless payment using their mobile phone while stationary, in turn ensuring legislation is up-to-date with technology.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "Too many deaths and injuries occur while mobile phones are being held.
"By making it easier to prosecute people illegally using their phone at the wheel, we are ensuring the law is brought into the 21st century while further protecting all road users."
The changes have been in the works for some time, with Shapps saying in 2019 that the revised rules would bring the UK ‘into the 21st century’.
He explained that, while the government recognises communicating while travelling was an ’essential part of modern-day life’, it is also committed to making ‘roads safe’.
Lilian Greenwood, the chairperson of the transport select committee, also said at the time: "The Government's decision to accept our recommendation to tighten up the law around the use of hand-held mobile phones while driving is great news.
"The difference between interactive communications and stand-alone functions on our phones is a loophole that has prevented police from prosecuting drivers who continue to use their phones behind the wheel and put themselves and other road users at risk."
Nick Lloyd, spokesperson for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, added: "Drivers who use their phones are up to four times more likely to crash.
"We highlighted this loophole in the summer and are delighted that such prompt action is being taken to ensure that all hand-held mobile phone use is to be prohibited.
"MPs had wanted the DfT to ban hands-free calls after evidence showed they can be just as distracting as picking up a phone.
"But the Government said it wanted to examine existing evidence about the risks of hands-free use and consider what a ban on hands-free would actually look like."