It has been over 13 years since laws were introduced to ban the use of a hand held phone while driving, however tougher penalties that have been introduced this month have left many drivers confused about what they can – and can't – do with their phone while in the car. The new crackdown on mobile phone use in the car means that many drivers are at risk of receiving a fine or even losing their licence if they are spotted using their phone. However it is still possible to use map apps on your phone as an in-car sat nav, providing you follow a few simple rules…
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Under the new law people seen holding their mobile phone while driving will be handed six penalty points and a £200 fine – double the previous penalty of three points and a £100 fine. Any drivers who have passed their test within the last two years will instantly lose their licence.
The law also applies when drivers are in stationary traffic, so you shouldn't adjust your sat nav or touch your phone even when stopped at traffic lights or in a traffic jam.
WHAT TO DO:
- Buy an appropriate phone holder: Invest in a suitable phone holder that will allow you to follow directions without distractions. While many attach to the car windscreen, this is actually considered a breach of the Highway Code, which requires drivers to keep windscreens clear. Instead consider trying a phone holder that attaches to the air vents.
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- Programme your destination before setting off: Ensure you have programmed your destination and started the journey planner before you start driving. If for any reason you need to touch your phone while driving, pull over to do so. A spokesman for the AA said: "It should be programmed with the route before you set off. If it pops up with a message which requires just one press of a button, such as 'A faster route has been found. Accept/ Decline' you should be OK to do this, as you would with an in-built sat-nav. But if you need to re-programme the route then pull over and stop somewhere safe to do it."
- Turn on Do Not Disturb settings on your phone: Receiving phone calls, texts and Whatsapp notifications can prove distracting while at the wheel. Resist checking your phone while driving and instead switch your phone to a Do Not Disturb mode, so you can pick up any missed calls or notifications when you are safely and legally parked.
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