One of the biggest reasons for accidents is the habit of checking handhelds whilst driving. The RAC statistics suggest that the use of a mobile while driving was the reason behind 2100 accidents in last five years on the UK roads. 47% of people agree that they find it alright to check their handheld devices while still behind the wheels. Such a huge proportion of people are unapologetic of their irresponsible driving behaviour, which calls for some strict action by the lawmakers in order to save people from accidents.
Realising the necessity of a ban on the use of mobiles while driving, the Prime Minister herself has compared it with drunk-driving and has pledged to make it socially unacceptable. The government has also changed laws for the use of mobile gadgets while one is behind the wheel. Find here, the new laws designed to ensure that you get rid of the habit of using mobile phones while driving.
According to the old law, the penalty for using mobile devices while driving was three points on your licence and a fine which was around £100 with effect from 2013. However, from 1 March 2017, the government has doubled the penalty which means that drivers caught using mobiles will be charged with a penalty of six points on their license and need to pay £200 as fine. Many of us would feel the pinch of this large amount taken as a fine and would choose to drive without touching the mobile. This change in the mentality actually serves the purpose of amending the mobile phone law.
In addition to this, there are awareness courses which would educate the driver about the ill effects of using the Handhelds and Britons choose those courses over paying the penalty. A point to note here is that the government does not allow the option of the courses as a substitute of the penalty but some of the police officers give this as a benefit of the doubt to the UK drivers.
Let us glance through the amended mobile phone laws for UK motorists:
Law for using hands free devices: A motorist can use a fully hands–free mobile without touching it even for a moment. The driver needs to set up the device before starting the vehicle so that they can receive calls without operating it. However, the police have the right to check if you are not using the device just to bring in more awareness of driving without any distractions.
Phone for the sat nav purpose: You cannot touch the phone to set your sat nav device. Make sure you have set the location before you start the vehicle and fix the phone to the windscreen. This will prevent the need to touch the phone while you are driving and you would get to your destination without any disturbance.
Law for using phone in the vehicle: You are allowed to use the phone in the vehicle only when you are not driving. Take the luxury of calling a friend while you are safely parked but this cannot be done while you are waiting in traffic or facing the traffic lights. However, the law has special considerations for emergency calls like that to 999 or 112 but it is allowed only when you are compelled to do so that is when it’s not otherwise safe to stop.
Another part which needs to be clear is that the law for not handling your mobile device would apply even while you are not moving but the engine of the vehicle is on. This means that you cannot take the phone while waiting in traffic as it would be a distraction and you may face some fatalities on the road. Even hands free devices that distract you may get caught by the police eye and lead to a penalty, but, such situations are left to the discretion of the police.
The law would lead to loss of license: Well, this is for the new drivers who have been driving for less than two years. Normally, an experienced driver is allowed to clock up 12 penalty points in three years, but the limit for this is reduced to six points for new drivers within a span of two years. If there is an excess to these points, then the driver would be subjected to disqualification and a fine up to £2,000 would be levied.
In extreme cases like causing death due to irresponsible driving, the new law states that the driver would face life imprisonment instead of a 14 year jail sentence. Depending on the severity of the accident, the court may also impose a two year ban on driving.
Despite the strict law, motorists choose to check their social media messages while driving and enjoy taking videos as well as calls while they are behind the wheel. Statistics by the insurance provider RAC suggest that a considerable number of motorists are violating the mobile phone law. The below graph gives more details:
Tips that help motorists stick to the new mobile phone laws:
Priorities safety over convenience: It is very clear that drivers need to give priority to their own as well as other party’s safety while being behind the wheel. It is important to drive safe as well as stay focussed on driving to avoid any mishaps on the roads. While social media messages can wait, safety can’t and so, ensure that you follow all norms of responsible driving.
Keep the phone at bay: When you start to drive make sure that your phone is kept inside the bag or is on flight mode to prevent any kind of distraction. Unless you are using it for sat nav purposes, keep a habit of either switching it off or put it on flight mode. You can also set the ‘do not disturb’ mode, which allows only important calls and silences the rest.
Consider the help of driving apps: You can also leverage apps like the LifeSaver which blocks calls, messages and other alerts while you are driving and alerts the caller once you reach the destination.
Make a public commitment: A wonderful initiative taken by the RAC is the launch of BePhoneSmart.uk which allows you to make a public commitment through an online promise to your family and social network friends. This is a positive step and many drivers are taking pledges on the site.
To sum up, the new mobile phone laws for the drivers are quite strict and would certainly bring a positive change in the driving patterns of UK motorists. The law is expected to reduce the number of accidents on the roads and ensure safe driving habits.
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