New laws will be implemented shortly and this will impact quite heavily on drivers. If you’re having driving lessons with us or another firm, then it’ll be in your interests to know about them, so you can avoid breaking the law.
You will find that as of March this year, there are some important changes, due to accidents caused by mobile phone use on the road. Now, when drivers are caught using their mobile phones within two years of having passed their test, they will have their licence revoked. These rules apply throughout Scotland, England and Wales.
You will also find that penalties for using your phone while at the driving wheel from the beginning of March last month, will now mean six points on your license and a fine of £200. If you’re a new driver, and you have six points or more, you will have to re-sit not just your practical but your theory test too. If you’re a more experienced driver then you can be banned altogether if you’ve received more than 12 points in the past 3 years.
There’ll be some pretty strong advertisements to ram the point home as well, so everyone is made aware of the more stringent rules and stronger punishments. There won’t be any excuses left for drivers who still try to use their mobile phones while driving, as the whole point of the exercise is to make sure everyone is made aware of them, so saying you didn’t know won’t be a good enough excuse.
The new changes to the law are because of the serious accidents that have been caused by mobile phone use while driving
These tougher punishments come close on the heels of some horrific accidents over the past couple of years. Over 20 people alone have died in car accidents, with nearly 100 seriously injured just in 2015 alone. Police are now extra vigilant and are planning to put out extra patrols on the road to catch people out.
Thing is what can you do, if say, for arguments sake, you get texts or social media messages whole you’re at a set of lights? Surely if you’re stationary you should be able to answer the phone. No, this is no longer allowed, even if your car is stopped at a set of traffic lights, you cannot use your phone. It doesn’t matter even if your phone is on a hands-free holder it can be distracting and dangerous.
No videos, but you can listen to music and podcasts
You won’t be able to watch videos because your eyes are not on the road, but you will be able to play podcasts and listen to music. Keep in mind though that even if you are just listening to music, if it’s providing enough of a distraction to make you drive dangerously – you can still be prosecuted.
If you need to look at a sat nav, and it’s on your phone, then it’ll need to be on a hands-free mounted holder. Remember that if it’s in your hands then you can be prosecuted.
You can always pull over to check your phone if it’s urgent, as long as you’ve chosen somewhere safe to park and your engine has been switched off.
What is considered a hands-free holder?
Hands free items are cradles, dashboard holders, earphones or Bluetooth connections. You must never hold a microphone in your hands or to hold your phone out in your hand to use a loudspeaker. If you have a smartwatch and/or any voice activated software, you’ll find that these are legal, but like listening to music on a radio or phone, they can be distracting, and again you can be prosecuted if you’re seen to be driving erratically as a result.
So, remember that the only time you can use your phone with your hands from now on is if you are safely parked. There is only ONE exception and that is if there’s an emergency and you need to call the police or an ambulance/fire brigade. That would be 999 or 112, and it’s simply impractical to stop or it’s unsafe to do so.
If you have any questions about what we’ve discussed today, please get in touch with us here at Compass Prodrive, where one of our trained and experienced driver instructors can advise and guide you on the correct procedure when driving. We are the premier driving instructors in Edinburgh, and your safety as a fully qualified driver is always our highest priority.