Let’s face it; the mobile phone has become an indispensable part of modern life. Whether it’s used for calling loved ones, keeping up with pals on social media or even clowning around with the latest Snapchat filters, most of us would be completely lost without one!
But worryingly, it doesn’t stop many UK motorists from overstepping the mark and using their phone while behind the wheel – risking the lives of themselves and others. On the 1st March 2017, the government introduced new laws, which sees the toughest ever penalties enforced for individuals caught using a handheld phone while behind the wheel.
Many people know that it’s illegal to use a mobile phone while driving, but do they realise just how severe the legislation is? Why not take our quiz below, you may just surprise yourself.
Scroll down to discover how you can take calls and enjoy music from your phone while driving in a safe and legal way.
To recap, it’s completely illegal to use a handheld mobile when driving. This includes using your phone to make calls, change a song, follow a map, read a text or check social media. Rules apply even if you’re stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic.
The only time you can use a handheld phone is if you are safely parked or need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop.
While it’s legal to use a cradled mobile phone for applications like sat nav, it’s still illegal to touch the phone’s display while doing so – even if it’s a simple tap to choose a new route or change a song.
Penalties for those breaching the laws have risen to six licence points and a £200 fine. New drivers caught using a phone within two years of passing their test will have their licence revoked and must retake their practical and theory.
Harsher speeding offence laws, effective from the 24th April 2017, have also been introduced by the government. According to new guidelines, fines for drivers caught at 51mph in a 30mph zone or 101mph on a motorway will start from 150% of weekly income, instead of the previous 100%.
While guidelines are in place, magistrates will be able to adjust the punishment dealt in some cases based on factors including weather conditions and previous offences.
See details of how much people could be fined in the table below. You can also find out more information on the law here.
How to use your phone safely in the car without breaking laws
The Highway 600 in-car adapter pairs with your phone over Bluetooth and lets owners make and receive hands-free calls at the touch of a button from the mounted controller. Siri and OK Google personal assistant functionality also means users can access their phone’s smart features with ease and without breaking the law.
Both the Highway 600 and 400 adapters let drivers enjoy their phone’s music library or streaming apps via Bluetooth. They can even take their favourite tunes and playlists on the road with Spotify Control (Spotify Premium account required). Amazing DAB/DAB+ radio also comes as standard, of course.
One of the easiest methods of adding hands-free and Bluetooth capability to your car, the adapter can be installed in less than 30 minutes. There’s no need to replace your vehicle’s head unit as the Highway connects to your car’s existing audio system through aux-in or an unused FM frequency.
While perfectly legal, it’s still important to use hands-free devices responsibly and make sure you’re not getting distracted from the road ahead.
Other top tips
If you keep your phone in a cradle to use applications like sat nav, it’s essential that you do not touch your phone’s display while driving. Avoid this by ensuring all routes are loaded before embarking on a journey.
If using a Highway, you can also listen to your mobile phone’s sat nav audio when connected through Bluetooth.
Create playlists before hitting the road if you’re using a device like the Highway 600 to play music over Bluetooth or Spotify Control. Tapping your phone to change a song could result in penalisation.
If you’re driving with a passenger, ask them to change the song, use navigation or check text messages for you.
Resist any temptation by storing your phone in the vehicle’s glove box. Your mobile will still be connected to any hands-free device over Bluetooth and that way you can’t break the law.