We should be allowed to touch our phones when driving


The new laws surrounding mobile phone usage in the UK are way too harsh in my opinion.

Being caught using a mobile phone while driving carries a penalty of six points and a £200 fine.

You are allowed to use a phone if it is fully hands-free – you’re not allowed to pick it up and operate it even momentarily.

It is no excuse to say you’re simply following the mapping on your hand-held device. The mobile phone law specifically refers to this, stating it is illegal to use a hand-held mobile to follow a map.

If you wish to use smartphone navigation or a mapping app, fix the phone to the windscreen or dashboard, so it’s in clear view for use while driving, without requiring you to hold it. This is, for example, what many private hire and taxi drivers do.

Contrary to what many drivers seem to think, the law still applies when your vehicle is stopped at lights or in a traffic queue. If your engine is running, your phone should be nowhere near your hands or eye line… More at RAC.

Now, I get that we should not be holding phones to our ears when driving and that often the only way to set a law is to aim at the fullest possible solution in order to avoid loopholes. However, I also remember travelling to meetings before sat naps arrived and spending ages referring to paper maps that were position on the passenger seat.

When used properly, a sat nav is MUCH safer than a paper map and it is also less distracting. It appears, however, that even if you come to a standstill you are not allowed to tap the screen twice to re-route yourself.

You can eat an apple, shout at your kids in the back seats (Are we there yet?!?), but you cannot even touch a phone. Yes, there are laws that mean you have to be aware of what you are doing at all times and you can be penalised to careless driving, but surely this particular law has gone too far and is an example of penalising people because a) some people (white van men?) blatantly use their phones while driving and b) it is new technology and some people in authority simply do not like such things.

4 thoughts on “We should be allowed to touch our phones when driving

  1. There is no “new law”. It’s just an increase in penalty for laws which have been around for *years* now.

    > even if you come to a standstill you are not allowed to tap the screen twice to re-route yourself.

    This is wrong. You can. As long as the device is not “handheld”, you do not break this law. (You still need to ensure that you are driving with due care and attention, of course.)

  2. I did not realise you were not allowed to use a handheld for navigation. This is quite frankly ridiculous. What year are we in?!

    As you say Shaun you can do other distracting things but not looking at a Sat Nav?!

    So now I should move my phone holder (currently on my dash) directly into my line of view on the windscreen, but into a position that could restrict my view of the road ahead?!

    Perhaps the regulating bodies should encourage car manufacturers to adopt navigation systems fitting of the current age and not the SH1 that they seem to install and charge a fortune for. Some are better than others but for the muggles of the world, these are important but often overpriced features.

    Are the enforcing authorities, i.e the Police not allowed to use their radios they have attached to their chests then? That is handheld no?

    1. > That is handheld no?

      “a mobile telephone or other device is to be treated as hand-held if it is, or must be, held at some point during the course of making or receiving a call or performing any other interactive communication function”

      If it is attached to the chest, and they just press a button on it, without holding it, then, no, not hand-held.

      > the Police not allowed to use their radios

      Leaving aside the broader issue of enforcement of laws against police in certain situations, the rules here do not apply to any “two-way radio”, which is defined as:

      “any wireless telegraphy apparatus which is designed or adapted—
      (i)for the purpose of transmitting and receiving spoken messages; and
      (ii)to operate on any frequency other than 880 MHz to 915 MHz, 925 MHz to 960 MHz, 1710 MHz to 1785 MHz, 1805 MHz to 1880 MHz, 1900 MHz to 1980 MHz or 2110 MHz to 2170 MHz;”

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