Road Safety Support welcomes news that
mobile phone loophole will be closed

01.11.2019

Road Safety Support (RSS) has welcomed the news that the Government will close a legal loophole which has allowed drivers to escape prosecution for using hand-held mobile phones behind the wheel.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps today announced that he will urgently take forward a review to tighten up the existing law preventing hand-held mobile use while driving.

The law currently prevents drivers from using a hand-held mobile phone to call or text. However, people caught filming or taking photos while driving have escaped punishment as defence lawyers have successfully argued this activity does not fit into the ‘interactive communication’ currently outlawed by the legislation.

The revised legislation will mean any driver caught texting, taking photos, browsing the internet or scrolling through a playlist while behind the wheel will be prosecuted for using a hand-held mobile phone while driving.

Andrew Perry, Road Traffic Solicitor, of Road Safety Support, was invited to assist the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) Appeals Unit with the Ramsey Baretto case, which clarified that only interactive use was currently prohibited and circulated advice to members of RSS, which was later adopted by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC).

Following today’s announcement, Andrew said: “We are pleased to hear that the Government intends to legislate to reverse the Baretto ruling, which made the mobile phone law almost impossible to enforce successfully. We hope the new law will ban ALL uses of mobile phones whilst driving.

"The message needs to be simple and clear: When you’re driving, put your phone down.”

Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary, said: “We recognise that staying in touch with the world while travelling is an essential part of modern day life but we are also committed to making our roads safe.

“Drivers who use a hand-held mobile phone are hindering their ability to spot hazards and react in time – putting people’s lives at risk.”

“We welcome the Transport Select Committee’s report, and share their drive to make our roads even safer which is why this review will look to tighten up the existing law to bring it into the 21st century, preventing reckless driving and reduce accidents on our roads.”

It is already a criminal offence to use a phone while driving without a hands-free device. This latest move will see the government go further to ensure the law reflects the use of devices that allow other distracting activities.

The impact of this behaviour is proven – if a driver looks at their phone for just 2 seconds when travelling at 30 miles per hour, whether to reply to a message or send a quick snap, they will travel 100 feet blind, drastically increasing the chance of an accident.

The review will be urgently taken forward with further proposals expected to be in place by next spring, making the offence clearer for drivers and police forces.

While ministers have also announced that they will consider the current penalties in place for hand-held mobile phone use, there are no plans to ban hands-free phone use.

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