The government has launched a consultation to tighten laws around using handheld mobile phones while driving so that it will be illegal in all circumstances.

While it’s a criminal offence to make handheld calls or send texts while driving, there’s currently no law against using mobiles in other ways, for example to play games.

This is because these acts, which include scrolling through music playlists and even taking photos or videos, aren’t viewed as ‘interactive communication’ – the current definition of the offence.

Roads minister Baroness Charlotte Vere, who today announced the plans, said: “Our roads are some of the safest in the world, but we want to make sure they’re safer still by bringing the law into the 21st century.”

The president of the AA, Edmund King, said: “There’s no excuse for picking up a mobile phone when driving, so we’re pleased this loophole will be closed.

“Phones do so much more than calls and texts, so it’s only right that the law is changed to keep pace with technology. Tweets, TikTok and Instagram snaps can all wait until you park up.

“If you can’t resist the temptation to pick up your phone, then you should convert your glovebox into a phonebox.”

While drivers will no longer be allowed to use handheld phones, hands-free phones and other devices haven’t been banned, so drivers can continue to make calls on loudspeaker and use hands-free sat-navs.

The government expects the new proposals to be in place by early 2021.


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