Driver Loses Licence 20 minutes after Passing Driving Test
A learner driver who passed his practical test at the first attempt lost it minutes later. Abdul ( Not his real name) passed his driving test at the Langley test driving test centre and was issued with a pass certificate just before 9 am. However, on his way home to Slough, Abdul answered his mobile. Unfortunately, he was spotted by a police officer.
The UK law on the use of mobile phones whilst driving is incredibly strict and the repercussions are harsh. Yet many people are still unclear on what constitutes as using your phone whilst driving, and therefore get points on their license or can even lose their license entirely.
The Mobile Phone Law
The law states that it’s illegal to hold a phone or sat nav while driving or riding a motorcycle. You must use a hands-free device such as a Bluetooth headset, voice command, a dashboard holder or mat, a windscreen mount or a built-in satnav. The device used must not block or impair your vision of the road or traffic ahead of you. Furthermore, must also stay in full control of the vehicle at all times. The police have the power to stop you if they think you’re not in control because you might be distracted by a mobile. This could lead to prosecution.
The exceptions are that you can use a handheld phone if you are safely parked. Or if you need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop. There are the only exceptions, the law still applies if you’re stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic.
Penalties for Using a Mobile Phone
The penalties for being caught holding a mobile whilst driving are incredibly harsh. The driver can receive six penalty points and £200 fine. Furthermore, if you’ve passed within the last two years, you can lose your licence. You will then have to reapply for your provisional licence before taking the theory and driving again. You can also be taken to court where you can be banned from driving and get a maximum fine of £1000 or £2500 if you’re a bus or lorry driver.
Mobile Phone use: The Statistics
Even though British law on mobile phones has become stricter, motorists are, worryingly, becoming laxer about the rules. Despite it being illegal, one in five motorists admit to checking social media during traffic, according to the RAC Report on Motoring 2016. Furthermore, almost one in two drivers will use their phone to make calls whilst in traffic. Worryingly, 14% say they’ve taken images or videos whilst driving. 20% of people have also written emails, texts or social media updates whilst driving. Worst of all, 6% of people state they use their phone “most or all of the time” while driving.
Advice and Apps
The easiest solution to the temptation of being distracted is simply to switch off your phone. Treat your car as the cabin of an aeroplane and place the phone into flight mode. However, if you do have to stay in touch, make sure your phone is paired up with Bluetooth. This ensures can still take calls and be alerted to new messages. Bluetooth devices cost relatively little and a majority of modern cars will have this feature installed as a default. Even with this feature, you should place your mobile out of sight with the sound turned off. Therefore ensuring that you will not be distracted by the sounds or the screen lighting up.
Some drivers may use their phones “Do not disturb” feature, which blocks any notifications except people in your allowed list. Recently, phone makers such as Apple, have included driving detection software into their phones. This makes it impossible to use your phone whilst driving, except for emergencies. This feature should not be turned off, as it is a valuable lifesaver.
If this option is not yet available on your smartphone, you can install a popular app called LifeSaver, available on IOS and Android. This cleverly uses a combination of GPS monitoring and rewards system to overcome distracted driving. Apps such as these should be installed in order to reduce your likelihood of becoming distracted while driving, as possibly causing a fatal accident to not just yourself, but other road users.