Our instructor Ian Carlton has over 15 years of experience in many areas such as Northampton, Kettering and Wellingborough. He has experienced the ever-growing issue of talking on the phone and driving, so we asked him to give us his view on the issue:
“I understand that living in 2018 would be hard without your phone, no matter where you go; you can be sure to see the majority people with their iPhone in their hand. I see pupils eager to get back on their phone as soon as they finish their lessons. I continuously try to highlight the importance of leaving your phone out of sight while driving as not only are you putting your life at risk, but you are putting innocent drivers in great danger. As a driving instructor, I am on the roads for a huge chunk of my day, and I still can’t believe the endless amount of drivers I see on their phone!”
What Happens If You Get Caught On Your Phone While Driving?
Since late 2003, it has been illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving and over the years the penalties have become increasingly severe. The penalty for being caught on your mobile while driving doubled in 2017, meaning that you will now be faced with a minimum of a £200 fine and six points on your driving licence.
This new law also applies to drivers of public transport vehicles such as buses and large goods vehicles. However, the maximum fine is significantly increased from a minimum of £200 to £2500.
If you are found guilty of using a mobile phone when driving, you may even face a court appearance and could be disqualified from driving completely. For new drivers in their first two years of driving, six points are the maximum amount that you can have on your licence meaning that your licence will be taken away if you are caught using your mobile phone while driving.
Police now have the right to stop you in your vehicle if they believe that a distraction in your vehicle is causing you to lose control. This may include in-car devices such as car radios and satellite navigation systems.
When Can You Use Your Phone While Driving?
The use of mobile phone is not prohibited if the method is through a hands-free device. You must set up the equipment before you set off, so there will be no need for you to handle the device while driving. Although, it is legal to use a hands-free phone, if the police suspect that your driving is being distracted due to this, they are still legally able to pull you over and question you.
A mobile phone can also be used if it is needed for navigation as a sat-nav, however similarly to hands-free, it must be fully set up before you drive. The phone must be in a fixed position throughout the journey in a place which can clearly be seen while driving without the need to have to adjust or hold the device at any point.
A hand-held mobile phone can only be used if you are parked in a safe area away from traffic, this does not include when you are stopped at traffic lights. The only circumstance where you would be allowed to use a hand help device is if it is a genuine, serious emergency where you have to call 999, and there is no safe place to stop the car.
Many drivers use their mobile phone through a Bluetooth system or aux cord to listen to music during journeys. While this is legal, you must create a playlist before you start driving and set it to shuffle. Do not pick up your phone to skip or change a song. You would rather listen to a song you are not too keen on for a maximum of 3 minutes than end up in a life-threatening collision.
Not only is it important to ensure that you, as the driver, stick to the mobile phone laws, but also other drivers. If you call someone and they are driving, tell them to call you back when they are finished driving and hang up. If you are a passenger in a car and the driver is using their mobile phone, be the bigger person and take it from them. Remind them of the potential implication and how they are not only risking their life, but also yours.
Why Is Talking On The Phone And Driving So Dangerous?
“Talking or texting on your phone will distract you. I try to emphasise the facts to my pupils, that they are four times more likely to crash by talking on the phone. This statistic is quite shocking; I don’t think people realise the seriousness of the offence. Not only that, but your reaction time is affected more than someone who has been drinking and driving at the legal limit. A campaign has now begun to show young drivers the reality of car crashes in Northampton; stressing the consequences of being negligent on the road by doing things such as talking on the phone while driving.”