Mobile phone usage – what is really allowed?  

mobile phone rules


Following on from our previous blog post on the new mobile phone usage fines, we take a look at the topic of using a mobile phone behind the wheel which can be a bit of a confusing area. Whereas most people now know that using a handheld mobile phone while driving a car is illegal, where do the boundaries lie? There are many reasons why someone might be tempted to use a mobile phone while driving:

  • To make or receive a call
  • To send or read a text message
  • To use the handsfree call function
  • For the phone’s navigation equipment
  • To play music

So, which of these is allowed and which can land a motorist in hot water?

According to the RAC, “you are allowed to use a phone if it is fully hands-free – you’re not allowed to pick it up and operate it manually, even momentarily.”

This means that if you are anticipating making or receiving a call during a car journey then you need to have taken the time to set this up before you set off. The same is true if you’re hoping to play music via a cable or Bluetooth while you’re driving. Set it up in advance so that it requires no manual intervention while you’re behind the wheel.

If you’re using your phone to navigate, ensure that the journey is pre-programmed and that the phone is mounted safely in a windscreen or dashboard mount. Glancing down at a phone on your lap is not safe, nor will it keep you out of trouble if you’re spotted by the police.

Next time you stop at traffic lights with another car alongside you, glance over to look at the other drivers. It is very easy to spot someone who is engaging with their mobile phone – intently looking down into their lap or (in the dark) their face will be illuminated with the light from the phone. It is that easy to spot someone who is on their phone while in charge of a car – next time it won’t necessarily be you who spots them, it could be the police.

Always remember: safety first

If you’re in any doubt, don’t risk it. Pull over, switch the engine off and then look at your phone. Also, remember that just because it is legal, doesn’t always mean it is safe for you to do it. If you find talking on a hands-free phone distracting while driving – don’t do it. There are few things that are so urgent that they cannot wait for you to have finished driving before you attend to them.

If you have been caught, call us on 0800 612 4859 for free advice no how best to fight your case.