Texting and driving? You’re committing a crime

It has long been known that texting and driving is a dangerous thing to be doing. In 2007 changes to the law reflected this, and using a mobile phone whilst driving became an endorsable offence. Drivers using a mobile phone became between one to two seconds slower at reacting to hazards on the road, compared to those who were fully concentrating. In other words, texting whilst driving makes you a hazard on the roads to both yourself and others. A split second call or text can distract a driver – and that’s all it takes for a very serious accident to happen.

Project Pictogram recognises the importance of these statistics and has named mobile phone use as one of its ‘Fatal Four’ – i.e. the nationally recognised four most major risks while driving. Mobile phone use is the most common ‘driver distraction’ and it’s no surprise therefore that it’s a major focus for Project Pictogram; an initiative which has seen road safety messages being delivered in arguably one of the most innovative and effective ways for decades. This includes the message about how dangerous driving and texting can be. Project Pictogram concentrates on raising a subliminal awareness in drivers through the use of graphics displayed on vehicles.

UK mobile phone and driving law

This is a simple law – it’s illegal to drive and use a handheld mobile phone, whether this is in a car or on a motorcycle. It applies whether you are stopped at red traffic lights, or you are queuing, and also if you are not driving yourself but supervising a learner driver. If you want to use your phone you need to be safely parked. The only exception to this is if you need to call 999 and it’s impractical, or unsafe, for you to stop.

What can happen to me if I’m caught texting and driving on a handheld phone?

Being caught whilst texting and driving is an automatic fixed penalty notice. You will get 3 points on your licence and a £100 fine. Depending on the circumstances it’s also possible that your case will be sent to court and you could be disqualified as well as incurring a maximum £1000 fine, unless you’re a driver of a goods vehicle or bus in which the maximum fine increases to £2,500.

If you’re a new driver then the possible consequences are more severe. If you get 6 points on your licence within 2 years then your licence will be removed. You are allowed to use a hands-free mobile phone – but you can still be prosecuted if you are found not to be in proper control of your vehicle.

Penalties for driving dangerously or carelessly whilst using a hands free or handheld mobile phone are a large fine, up to two years in prison and disqualification from driving.

All of these carry heavy implications for your car insurance in terms of cost. Insurance for young drivers especially can be expensive and having any further penalties added will only increase the cost even more.

Some points of advice

  • Switch off your phone before you start driving to avoid any possible distraction
  • Avoid ALL calls – even those on a hands free phone
  • Make sure that you are safely parked before you use your phone, i.e. not somewhere like the hard shoulder of the motorway
  • If you make a call to someone and they are driving – then don’t speak to them. Call them back later.

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