Last year, almost a quarter of drivers admitted to using a handheld device while driving to make or answer a call within the previous 12 months. What’s more, 18% admitted to using a mobile phone to check social media and emails or to send a text while driving. These shocking statistics come from the RAC Report on Motoring 2017.
In an effort to stop drivers using their phones in the car, Norfolk Council is testing smart road signs that are capable of detecting phone use by picking up radio signals emitted by mobiles phones during a call. If a signal is detected, then a smart sign further along the road will flash a warning to a driver, telling the driver to stop using their phone immediately. This does not apply to Bluetooth signals, as Bluetooth connected calls are legal in the UK, and the scanner has been designed to distinguish between the radio and Bluetooth signals.
There are plans to attach cameras to the road signs, providing Police – and culprits – with photographic evidence of both the driver using a phone and the vehicle’s number plates. Currently, however, there are no plans to use the smart signs with a view to prosecuting offenders; the premise is to simply warn drivers to put their full focus on the road and other road users instead of checking social media or making calls.
Research from the BMJ shows that drivers are four times more likely to be involved in a crash if they are using their mobile phone while behind the wheel. Further research from the Institute of Advanced Drivers shows that drivers’ reaction times are two times slower if they're texting while driving – this increases to three times slower if the driver is using a mobile phone.
If the trial in Norfolk proves to be successful, then the smartphones could be introduced across the country.
It is illegal to hold or use a handheld mobile phone when driving or sat behind the wheel with the engine running, such as sitting at traffic lights or level crossings. Using a phone includes calls, texts, and checking emails and social media. While it is not illegal to use a hands-free sat-nav app on your phone, the Police could prosecute you if the app causes you to be distracted and affects your ability to drive safely.
If you are caught using your phone behind the wheel, then expect to receive 6 penalty points on your license and a £200 fine. If you get 6 points on your licences within the first two years of passing your test, you will lose your license.
If you have been caught using a mobile phone while driving, Oratto member motoring Offences solicitors are here to help you.
Contact Oratto on 0845 3883765 to speak with an adviser or use our contact form to arrange a call-back.