Recent changes to the law mean drivers face tougher penalties for using a mobile phone while behind the wheel. As of March 1st 2017, anybody caught using a mobile phone when driving will penalised with a £200 fine and six points on their licence – which is a big increase from the previous consequence of £100 and three points.
It’s illegal to use any mobile device (including tablets) while driving, even if you’re stationary in traffic or waiting at the lights. As a general rule, if you’re on the road or your engine’s running, you shouldn’t be using a mobile or doing anything that could distract you. Only when you’re parked up somewhere safe with the engine switched off can you legally use a phone from the driver’s seat.
However, it is still possible to use your phone as a sat nav without getting into trouble – as long as you do it in the right way.
First, your phone needs to be secured in a holder in a way that doesn’t obstruct your view. You can get these fairly cheaply from places like Halfords and Maplin, and but do make sure you can see the road clearly – you can get three points on your licence and fined up to £1,000 in court if the police deem your view to be obstructed.
Next, make sure you’ve programmed your route correctly and got all your sounds and settings as desired before you set off. You can’t pick up the phone or press any buttons while you’re driving, so if you do need to amend anything en route, make sure you park safely and switch the engine off first.
Don’t forget to charge your phone too – plugging your phone into an in-car charger before you set off means you won’t be distracted by your battery unexpectedly giving up midway through the journey.
Obviously, answering any calls or texts you get is a big no-no. There’s no law against using a hands-free kit, but be aware that the police can still fine you up to £100 and put three points on your licence if they think you’re not in control of your vehicle. It is better to be safe than sorry, so if you can, find a place to stop if you need to talk.