Legal loophole for drivers using mobile phones to be closed

Proposals will be in place by Spring 2020

Friday, November 1, 2019

A legal loophole which enables drivers using their mobiles to escape prosecution if they are filming or taking photos is to be closed.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said an urgent review will be carried out to tighten up the laws on mobile phone use at the wheel.

It comes after driver Ramsey Barreto successfully appealed against a conviction for filming the scene of a crash while driving earlier this year.

His lawyers argued that current rules only relate to using a phone for "interactive communication".

But the Department for Transport (DfT) said legislation will now be revised, so any driver caught using a phone behind the wheel can be prosecuted regardless of what they are using the mobile device for.

Proposals are expected to be in place by Spring 2020.

In 2018, there were 683 casualties on Britain's roads - including 29 deaths and 118 serious injuries - in crashes where a driver using a mobile was a contributory factor.

Since March 2017, motorists caught using a hand-held phone have faced incurring six points on their licence and a £200 fine - up from the previous penalty of three points and £100.

Mr Shapps said drivers who use a hand-held mobile phone are putting lives at risk by "hindering their ability to spot hazards and react in time", and hoped revising laws would prevent "reckless driving".

But RAC road safety spokesman, Simon Williams, argued that tightening the rules on phone use was "only as powerful as the level of enforcement".

"In the absence of technology being used to catch offenders, the decline in the number of road police officers means there is a much lesser chance of being caught in person today than there was 10 years ago," he added.

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