As you may have seen this week, a Mr David Beckham pleaded guilty to using his mobile phone while behind the wheel of his Bentley in central London on 21 November last year. Due to a previous speeding conviction he already had six points on his licence, with a further six for using his mobile phone he’s now been banned from driving for six months. That’s as well as a £750 fine, £100 in court costs plus a £75 surcharge…walking around money for a man worth roughly £340 million.
District Judge Catherine Moore said she acknowledged the slow pace of the traffic but told him there was "no excuse" under the law.
Many motorists, especially youngsters, seem to think it’s acceptable to use their phone while driving. Next time you’re in traffic look around you and try to spot the ‘down lookers’ as they use their phones in their lap, barely paying attention to the crawl of their ton of metal as it creeps toward the car in front. While it may seem perfectly acceptable to divert your full attention in traffic, there’s just too much happening around you to take it for granted.
According to Think! the government road safety organisation, drivers who use their phones whether that’s handsfree or held, fail to see road signs, fail to maintain proper lane position or a steady speed, are more likely to tailgate the vehicle in front, react slower, take longer to brake and are more likely to pull into unsafe gaps in traffic.
When is using a phone when driving illegal?
It’s illegal to hold a mobile phone or a sat-nav while driving or riding a motorcycle. That means if you want to navigate using your phone it must be fixed to your windscreen or dashboard so that it’s in a clear view, but not obstructing your view of the road ahead.
When is using your phone behind the wheel legal?
The law states it’s only legal to use a hand-held device behind the wheel if you’re safely parked and need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency. But this must be in a practical and safe place to stop.
When in traffic or at traffic lights you cannot be using your phone in a hand-held manner.
You can also use your phone behind the wheel hands-free, either using voice commands, a dashboard/windscreen mount or via a Bluetooth headset. These devices must be set up before you start your journey, so you don’t have to touch your device.
The Police still have the power to stop you and prosecute you if they believe you’re driving dangerously due to being distracted even if you’re handsfree.
How many points will I get for using my phone while driving?
Since 2003 it’s been illegal to use your mobile when driving, in 2007 the penalty was three points and a £100 fine.
This wasn’t enough of a deterrence though, so in 2017 the penalty doubled to six points and a £200 fine.
If you’ve passed your test within the last two years and are caught using your mobile, you’ll lose your licence. That’s because new drivers are only allowed six points in the first two years of driving.
Is it safe to use my phone while driving?
While technology can help drivers safely interact with their phones, the act of just talking on a mobile phone is unsafe, as Think’s research has discovered.
Human brains are pretty simple things when it comes down to it, multitasking isn’t everyone’s forte, few do it well. Talking on the phone makes you concentrate on two ‘thinking’ tasks simultaneously, which our brains aren’t wired to do effectively.
Things get worse when you’re actually looking at any device in your car, whether that’s the sat nav, or changing the radio station. Just looking away for 2 seconds can create a blind spot of 100ft when travelling at only 30 MPH, imagine what you could miss in that distance.
How can I safely use my phone while driving?
Official guidance is to avoid any mobile phone interaction while driving, the RAC go so far as to say that your phone should be switched off or put into flight mode when you get into your car.
Sadly the numbers of offenders being caught has dropped massively over the past 9 years, in 2010 there were 32,548 convictions, yet in 2017 there were just 8,300; of those 86% were men, and more worryingly 21% were under the age of 25.
If you see someone using their phone while driving, report them by calling Crimestoppers – 0800 555 111. You might just save someone’s life.