A legal loophole that allows drivers to use their mobile phone to film or take pictures while behind the wheel will soon be closed.
Current laws state that drivers cannot use a phone for “two-way interactive communication” while driving a vehicle, but Auto Express says a loophole allows drivers to use their handset to record videos and take photographs on the move.
But Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced that the Department for Transport (DfT) will review phone driving laws “with the aim of tightening up existing legislation” to make any form of mobile use behind the wheel illegal, the motoring magazine says.
Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
In a statement, Shapps said the DfT recognises “that staying in touch with the world while travelling is an essential part of modern day life, but we are also committed to making our roads safe.”
It continued: “This review will look to tighten up the existing law to bring it into the 21st century, preventing reckless driving and reducing accidents on our roads.”
The move comes after a man successfully appealed against a conviction for using a mobile phone while driving earlier this year.
According to The Sun, Ramsey Barreto was caught filming a car crash on his smartphone while behind the wheel.
The conviction was overturned when his lawyers successfully argued that he had not been using his handset for “interactive communication”.
By spring 2020, the DfT plans to implement new legislation that will make all uses of a mobile phone while driving illegal.
What are the laws for using a phone while driving?
As it stands, drivers who use their mobile phone for two-way communication, such as making a phone call or texting someone, could face prosecution, the Daily Mail reports.
But the newspaper claims that the law doesn’t take into account motorists who use their phone’s camera or browse a music playlist while on the move.
If the revamped laws are given the green light next spring, drivers will be “banned from picking up their mobiles for any reason”, the paper adds. Those caught face a £200 fine and six points on their licence.
The stricter rules won’t block drivers from making calls on the move, though.
As the RAC points out, drivers can use their phone hands-free – provided they don’t physically pick up their handset at any time while the car is moving. A hands-free connection must be set up before starting a journey.
Even if a hands-free connection have been set up, police still have the power to stop motorists if they think the driver is distracted, the BBC adds.
Can you use a phone as a sat nav?
Yes, but only if the smartphone has been secured to the car and the destination is programmed before setting off.
The phone must be fixed to the dashboard or windscreen and must not obscure the driver’s view, the RAC notes.
But the law “specifically” states that drivers cannot follow a map on their phone if the device is in their hand, the motoring body adds.
Continue reading for free
We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.
Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.