Drivers who use a portable mobile phone while driving for any purpose will face penalties after the UK government announced a tightening of existing road safety laws on Friday.
It is already illegal to text or make calls (other than in an emergency) with a handheld device while driving. Starting next year, laws will continue to prohibit drivers from using their phones to take photos or videos, scroll through playlists or play games.
This means anyone caught using their wearable device while driving will be fined £200 and 6 penalty points on their licence, half the number leading to license withdrawal in the country.
“Too many people are killed and injured while cell phones are being held. By making it easier to prosecute people who illegally use their phones while driving, we are ensuring the law is implemented in the 21st century, while empowering all road users protect,” the UK said. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
“While our roads are among the safest in the world, we will continue to work tirelessly to make them safer,” he said.
Drivers can still use a device ‘hands-free’ while driving, such as a navigation system, if it is mounted in a holder.
However, they must always take responsibility for their driving behavior and can be charged with an offense if the police find that they are not in good control of their vehicle.
The expanded rules on mobile phone use follow a public consultation that found 81 percent of respondents supported proposals to strengthen the law and make it easier for offenders to be prosecuted.
Following the public consultation, the government will review the country’s ‘Road Code’ to explain the new measures. It will also be more accurate about the fact that standing still in traffic counts as driving, making it clear that hand-held use of cell phones at traffic lights or in highway traffic jams is illegal, except in very limited circumstances.
There will be an exception to the new law for drivers who pay contactless with their mobile phones while stationary to ensure the law keeps pace with technology, the Department for Transport (DfT) said.
“Driver distraction can be fatal and using a portable phone while driving is never worth the risk. This important government road safety decision, coinciding with Road Safety Week, is very welcome,” said Mary Williams, Chief Executive van Brake – a road safety organization.
This exemption applies, for example, to places such as a drive-in restaurant or toll collection and only applies when paying with a card reader. It will not allow motorists to make general online payments while driving.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)