Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, has welcomed a tightening of the law around mobile phone use while driving which will prevent motorists taking photos or playing games while behind the wheel.
It is already illegal to text or make a phone call (other than in an emergency) using a hand-held device while driving, but next year, laws will go further to ban drivers from using their phones to take photos or videos, scroll through playlists or play games.
Anyone caught using their hand-held device while driving will face a £200 fixed penalty notice and 6 points on their licence.
Drivers will still be able to continue using a device ‘hands-free’ while driving, such as a sat-nav, if it’s secured in a cradle. They must, however, always take responsibility for their driving and can be charged with an offence if the police find them not to be in proper control of their vehicle.
It will also be more precise about the fact that being stationary in traffic counts as driving, making it clear that hand-held mobile phone use at traffic lights or in motorway jams is illegal except in very limited circumstances.
There will be an exemption to the new law for drivers making a contactless payment using their mobile phone while stationary to ensure the law keeps pace with technology.
It follows a public consultation that found 81% of respondents supported proposals to strengthen the law and make it easier for culprits to be prosecuted.
Commissioner Hernandez, who is the national APCC lead for road safety and also chair of the Vision Zero South West road safety partnership, welcomed the changes.
She said: “You would think that not playing games or taking photos whilst driving would be obvious to most people, but I’m glad this law has finally been tightened to make it absolutely black and white. I’m delighted that common sense has prevailed.
“New research* shows that younger motorists are more likely to use a handheld device at the wheel. They are also a vulnerable road user group who are far more likely to be involved in collisions. We have to change that.
“Vision Zero South West is aiming to halve all serious collisions on the roads of Devon and Cornwall by 2030 and putting an end to distracted driving – particularly while using mobile phone – is a key part of that.”