Drivers will be fined £200 for checking the time on their phones from next week

Highway Code changes slammed by Steve McNamara

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Thirteen amendments regarding the use of mobile phones while driving are brought into effect from March 25 and will result in hefty fines for drivers who even push the front of their phone screens in order to check the time.

Fines of £200 will be levied against anyone breaking the new rules, in addition to six points on their licence.

The regulations are being brought in to ensure that the Highway Code keeps pace with changing technology.

The Government also hopes to reduce the worrying number of incidents on UK roads related to people using their phones.

There are very few exceptions to the rules, which still apply if the phone is without WiFi, is on airplane mode or out of data.

Exemptions have however been put in place to ensure that drivers will be able to use their phones if they’re in ‘drive-thrus’ at restaurants.

And they will also not face a fine if a situation is deemed to be an emergency.

Phones are allowed to be used if they are ‘hands-free’ in a holder, on a dashboard for instance using a maps application.

In 2020, the Department for Transport reported 17 people were killed on British roads in accidents involving drivers distracted by mobile phones. A further 114 people were seriously injured and 385 were slightly injured.

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Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “Too many deaths and injuries occur while mobile phones are being held.

“By making it easier to prosecute people illegally using their phone at the wheel, we are ensuring the law is brought into the 21st century while further protecting all road users.”

Motorist groups such as the RAC have ‘strongly welcomed’ the law change but say it must be enforced properly to really make roads safer.

And researchers at the Transport Research Laboratory said the focus on hand-held devices “misses the point”, and a deeper understanding of how even ‘hands-free’ technology can distract drivers is needed.

The March 25 Highway Code updates ban the following actions on a phone:
-illuminating the screen
-checking the time
-checking notifications
-unlocking the device
-making, receiving, or rejecting a telephone or internet-based call
-sending, receiving or uploading oral or written content

-sending, receiving or uploading a photo or video
-utilising the camera, video, or sound recording
-drafting any text
-accessing any stored data such as documents, books, audio files, photos, videos, films, playlists, notes or messages
-accessing an app
-accessing the internet

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