A warning has been issued by West Yorkshire Police to motorists and motorcyclists about using their phones whilst driving.
From Friday, the law around using a mobile phone whilst driving is becoming much stricter.
It is already illegal to use a mobile phone or another hand-held device to make phone calls and send messages while driving, except in an emergency, but this law is becoming tighter to cover checking the time, notifications, taking images, or access music, photos, apps, and the internet.
Other hand-held devices include using a smartwatch or tablet.
This includes when at a red light or in slow-moving traffic.
There is an exemption that allows drivers to use a mobile to make a contactless payment while the vehicle is stationary at places such as drive-through restaurants and car parks.
Using a mobile phone for navigation will continue to be legal, as long as it is kept in a cradle and not in the driver’s hand.
If you’re caught using a hand-held phone while driving or riding, you can get an automatic Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 and 6 penalty points on your license.
Your case could also go to court and you could be disqualified from driving or riding and get a maximum fine of £1,000 (£2,500 if you’re driving a lorry or bus).
If you passed your driving test in the last 2 years, you’ll lose your licence.
In some circumstances, for example, if the use of a phone has caused or contributed to an accident, the Police may prosecute for driving without due care or dangerous driving in order to secure a more severe punishment.
In the video below, Sergeant Johnson from West Yorkshire Police’s Roads Policing Unit explains why these changes have been introduced and the dangers of using a mobile phone while driving.
When you can use your mobile phone when driving
If you’re the driver, you can only use your phone in a vehicle if you need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop or are safely parked.
You can use hands-free phones, satellite navigation systems and two-way radios when you’re driving or riding. But if the police think you’re distracted and not in control of your vehicle you could still get stopped and penalised.
Hands-free means that the phone call is made and ended through buttons in the vehicle and not by touching the phone in any way.
If you are safely parked and dial a number to begin a call before you set off on a journey, you can continue with the call when you are hands-free. However, you must end the call using hands-free, not by pressing the phone itself.
The law doesn’t include changing radio stations, changing a CD, having a drink, or having a cigarette. These can still distract people. However, using a mobile phone is more distracting which is why there is a law in place.