New Rules for Mobile Phones whilst driving in UK 25 Mar 2022

Refers only to UK from 25th March 2022 and is posted as information for drivers travelling to UK as the rules have changed as outlined by the #BlackBeltBarrister

Thanks for that Graham. Useful to know.

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Yes, useful indeed. I might have missed it, but at what point can you actually use a phone, for whatever purpose. Is it when the vehicle is stationary but with the engine running, without the engine running but the ignition on, or removed from the vehicle altogether?

In my own case the new regs do not affect me in one important way, I never have used it for photos, but I do have a thing in the car which is not a phone but is connected to it and to the car radio by Bluetooth. I don’t make calls while driving but I do occasionally receive them and it is not voice activated, I have to reach to the cradle and press a button. Now is that allowed? The mobile phone itself is never touched.

I think the BleckBeltBarrister explains that you can use a mobile phone legally only in emergency circumstances such as alerting the emergency services to an incident such as an accident on the road. Otherwise, it is totally forbidden. Other exceptions seem to be using a hand held mobile phone to make a contactless payment in very limited circumstances but the conditions in which this would apply are carefully controlled (I think explained in the video).

I think he mentions “hands free” devices and mobiles in cradles with the provision that, even though such use may be regraded as legal in one respect, it could still be illegal in another where the driver can be accused of driving without due care and attention. These devices do not appear to be illegal for use in France, but IIRC using a mobile phone in your hand whilst driving is (and probably the rest of Europe too).
The BlackBeltBarrister added a further video concerning the use of two way radio which would affect the likes of Taxi drivers and the like:

If nothing else, it just goes to show how rushing legislation to the Statute Books in the UK without proper determination in the Parliamentary process is a very bad thing.

The short version:

Don’t touch your phone unless you’re parked up with the engine off UNLESS you are:

  1. Making an emergency call to report an actual emergency

  2. Making a contactless payment at a drive-through restaurant, péage, car park payment point etc.

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My mobile phone is just that, a phone, so is never exercised at peages etc., but I was interested to know if engine off but with ignition on was legal there or not, as the thing, which is called an Avantree, which connects my phone to the car radio, obviously only works with the ignition on.

Edit after watching the video: seems that lorry drivers can still use cb radios then although if it affects their performance in any way they can be prosecuted under other laws, but that was always the case, and I am not sure that all that many do use them now anyway. Might be advisable to do away with those dangling mikes though, many of us old timers were well versed in keeping them out of sight from the days when they were illegal in Britain. :wink:

I think that your question David, revolves around the definition of what is considered to be driving.
Now I may well be a bit out of date on this one, but when I was involved in enforcement of such matters, ‘Driving’ was considered as be being in a position to control the movement and direction of a motor vehicle. Whether the vehicle was moving, and whether the engine was running was irrelevant. Also it mattered not that the key was in the ignition switch or not, but being in possession of the key was very relevant.
So the culmination of all this is that a person who is sitting in the driving seat, and who has the means of starting the vehicle in their possession (the key), is ‘Driving’ regardless of whether the vehicle is moving, the engine is running or the key is actually in the ignition.
I understand that not so long ago a driver who had stopped his vehicle in a lay-by, and who had switched off the engine and applied the handbrake, and who was still sitting in the driver’s seat, was successfully prosecuted here in France for using a hand held phone while driving.
So the only way to use a hand held phone lawfully is to stop and properly park the vehicle, and get out of the vehicle so that you are no longer in a position to have control over its movement.
If the weather is inclement I should think that sitting in the back seat would be OK, but you just have to get out of that driver’s seat.

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Interesting that Robert, but really unworkable in my case as I never know when the phone will ring and the only way I would actually transgress would be the initial acceptance of the call by reaching to the Avantree in its bracket to press the button. If I was to get out of the car leaving the ignition on by that time my caller will probably have disappeared.

Anyway, thankfully this restriction does not apply in France (I have a Bluetooth earpiece I use when I am away from the car, the Avantree was bought when the law in France was changed banning them). Also, as I have no intention of ever visiting the UK again, but if for some strong reason I was called back, it is good to be well prepared.

I totally understand the reason for these restrictions, but they really don’t get to the heart of the problem, that is the diversion of concentration by conversation, from wherever it comes, including from inside the car. Also,of course, listening to the radio. :roll_eyes:

Yes, I agree with you entirely on that point. I must admit that I tend to drive in silence even with one or more passengers in the vehicle. Only time I have received a speeding ticket was at a time when I was distracted by being in conversation with my passenger, and considering that I knew exactly where the camera was, it just goes to show just how much of a distraction conversation can be.
I deal with the phone situation by leaving it in my coat pocket on the back seat. If the call is urgent, then no doubt the caller will leave a message, or send a text, which I can access once I have reached my destination or have stopped for refreshment along the route.

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My phone too is, almost, out of reach from my driving position, but your solution above does not work if you are on a mission, as I usually was for someone else, because it might be a cancellation or change of destination. Ignoring it is not an option if it might leave me hundreds of kms away from where I needed to be.

When I say almost, I mean that it is in a convenient pocket in the overhead shelf so I could put it in the glove box I suppose. I wonder if a distinction would be made between the Avantree and the phone, legally speaking. After all, pressing its button is no more than pressing the on button of the radio, which I sometimes have to do as it is often switched off in cities to avoid irritating interference on the dedicated frequency.

an interesting point there @Robert_Hodge
I know that specifically applies to the UK, as you say, and in that regard, I am minded to consider the position of law enforcers who arrest drunk drivers who are not in the vehicle, but are in possession of the key (maybe only in their pocket) approaching the vehicle in (say) a pub car park. Prosecutions in UK have been successful in this regard despite the driver being outside the vehicle, not in a position to have control over its movement, and with the sole intention of sleeping off their condition (perhaps) on the back seat. I can see the point where they are in the driving seat in possession of the key and clearly in a position to have control of the vehicle, start the engine etc but that point has always defeated my logic…

My phone connects with my car touch-screen so that the screen effectively becomes the phone - I can read messages etc on the touch-screen (as well as get the obvious useful internet stuff like Chargemap - live status of charging points, etc) - and voice calls of course.
Wonder how this stands?

if you are referring to the UK then, as stated in the BBB video, the rules concerning driving without due care and attention could apply.
I really don’t know if there is an equivalent French offence, but I’m sure a resourceful Gendarme would come up with something :wink:

Having been back and reviewed the video at the start of this post for a second time, it would seem that the thrust of the new rules is to prevent a smartphone from being used for any purpose whatsoever whilst it is held in the hand of the driver. Therefore, your Avantree device which avoids you having to hold the phone in your hand would seem to be OK.
As you rightly point out, there are many dashboard buttons and switches that a driver can use quite lawfully (heated rear window, heater controls, fog lights etc), provided of course that the driver always maintains a good standard of care and attention to his actual driving.

Regarding your point about intoxicated people, it is important to remember that there are two quite separate offences which can be committed.
Firstly, it is an offence to be driving a motor vehicle whilst unfit through drink or drugs.
Secondly, it is an offence to be in charge of a motor vehicle whilst unfit through drink or drugs.
Clearly it is the case that a person who is driving the vehicle is also in charge of it, but (and this is where the car park scenario comes in) a person can be in charge of the vehicle even though he is not actually driving it as defined.
Basically the drunk in charge offence was created as a means of permitting the police to prevent the more serious offence of driving while unfit.
One of the main differences between the two offences is related to punishment upon conviction. Driving whilst unfit results in mandatory disqualification, whereas in relation to being in charge whilst unfit, the question of disqualification is at the court’s discretion.

further guidance from the BlackBeltBarrister on hand held devices and the use of cradles:

Personally I think that the Gov’t should just come straight out with it and say “Do not use a mobile phone while driving”.
Add it to the list of;
Do not drive while unfit through drink or drugs.
Do not drive when excessively tired.
Do not drive for more than two hours without taking a break.
Do not drive while doing the crossword, looking at a map, reading a book, or doing anything else that diverts your attention from what the driver should be concentrating on, namely driving.

Tempted to agree, Robert, but then presumably we must add do not drive with the radio on, do not drive with any passengers in the car, do not talk to yourself, do not sing. All of which I do from time to time and recognise the loss of concentration that they all incur, however slight. :thinking:

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I had a lovely drive back from Calais to Brittany a couple of weeks ago. I avoided tolls and tootled back in 9.25 hours. Unfortunately I broke a lot of rules (unintentionally) - only 2 breaks, didn’t see Stop sign until I had sailed through it, U turn in Rouen, wrong lane in Rouen, talking to myself, upsetting stupid woman on Google maps who sulked for a bit but eventually gave in and started giving me directions again.

I silenced that woman, and the alternative man, many years ago being a source of rage and diversion and relied upon my own preparation and common sense while using the moving screen simply as a confirming map.

Don’t beat yourself up about the lack of breaks, even 44 tonner drivers are only required to take a 45 minute one after 4 and a half hours of driving, so you are within that, if taken at the correct times of course, and if the rules haven’t changed since my time. :wink: :smiley: