A loophole which allowed motorists to get away with using their phones behind the wheel is set to be closed underneath a brand new law.
The Department for Transport is consulting on updating legal guidelines so drivers may be convicted for using their phones behind the wheel, even when they don’t seem to be texting or calling.
The DfT says phone-wielding drivers have escaped punishment as they weren’t using their gadgets for ‘interactive communication’, so their actions weren’t unlawful underneath the definition of the law which bans using phones while driving. It means folks have managed to get off prices even when they had been enjoying video games or taking movies on their telephone while driving, as a result of they weren’t using their machine to talk.
But the driving law adjustments would permit for motorists to use their phones to pay for items at drive-thru eating places, so long as their car isn’t shifting.
Ministers have rejected calls to go additional by banning the usage of hands-free features – drivers will nonetheless find a way to proceed safely using gadgets “hands-free” while driving, equivalent to a sat-nav secured in a cradle.
Roads Minister Baroness Vere mentioned: “Our roads are a number of the most secure on this planet, however we would like to make certain they’re safer nonetheless by bringing the law into the twenty first century.
“That’s why we’re trying to strengthen the law to make using a hand-held telephone while driving unlawful in a wider vary of circumstances.
“It’s distracting and harmful, and for too lengthy dangerous drivers have been ready to escape punishment, however this replace will imply these doing the fallacious factor will face the total drive of the law.”
The change in law would apply throughout Britain and is predicted to come into impact early subsequent 12 months, pending the result of the session.
In 2019, there have been 637 casualties on Britain’s roads – together with 18 deaths and 135 severe accidents – in crashes the place a driver using a cellular was a contributory issue.
The punishment for drivers caught breaking the foundations on hand-held cellular use are six penalty factors and a £200 advantageous.
The University of Leeds was commissioned by the DfT to analyse cellular use by 52 drivers over a complete of 765 journeys.
Some 662 telephone interactions had been noticed, of which solely 38 had been fully hands-free.
A automotive being pushed at 30mph travels 100 toes in 2.3 seconds, demonstrating how spending a second to change a track on a playlist or test an app can lead to a crash.
National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for Roads Policing, Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, mentioned: “Using a cell phone while driving is extremely harmful and being distracted on the wheel can change lives ceaselessly.
“Police will take strong motion towards these using a hand-held cell phone illegally and proposals to make the law clearer are welcome.”
RAC head of roads coverage Nicholas Lyes mentioned: “The closing of this loophole may be very welcome and displays the multitude of how drivers can use hand-held phones when behind the wheel in 2020.
“We know that the usage of hand-held cellular phones on the wheel continues to characterize a really actual street security threat, so it is clear extra wants to be finished to make this as socially unacceptable as drink-driving.
“It’s necessary that alongside this change to the law, the Government appears to be like severely at different choices that may assist implement the law, which ought to embody new digicam know-how that may detect several types of hand-held cell phone use.”