Mobile phones are part and parcel of our daily lives since they make connectivity more convenient for us. However, using it while you are behind the wheel can lead to stiff fines, since this causes you to become distracted and will put you at risk of getting into accidents. As a motorist, it is your responsibility to focus on the road, otherwise, you might end up getting fined by the police because of your recklessness.
Motorists who are caught texting while driving are usually fined £200 plus six penalty points. But did you know that these fins can also be applied to those who are using their phones while on the passenger seat? There are special circumstances for this rule to be applied which every motorist should know.
Recent news stated that aside from being fined when you are texting or calling while you are behind the wheel, the same rule can be applied if you are a passenger under certain circumstances. For example, if you are the instructor sitting at the passenger seat, and a learner driver is behind the wheel, and you are caught using your phone while you are on the road, your vehicle will be flagged down and you’ll be fined. Why? Since you are the instructor, you are responsible for the car and your student hence the road law will apply to you as well. Take note that these laws are not restricted to driving schools only, but they can be applied to anyone who may be disrupting the attention of the driver.
According to a spokesperson from RED Driving School, their company doesn’t recommend the use of mobile phones while driving. They also encourage everyone, including their instructors, to turn their mobile phones off while they are behind the wheel. Their statement also included that any instructor who is teaching a learner driver, who has a provincial license, is not allowed to use their mobile phone at any time. This includes texting or receiving and placing calls. The penalty will be the same as anyone who is teaching a student to drive.
For provincial license instructors, they can receive a six-point demerit on their license, but the consequences for a highly qualified driving instructor will be bigger. Aside from getting penalized six points on their license, they are also at risk of losing their ADI badge, and their source of livelihood as well.
Some drivers just can’t help but take a peek at their phones even when they are driving. After all, our phones are the ones that tell us if there is a new email from work, a text message from your family, or an alarm to notify you of any important event coming up. Unfortunately, this habit of ours can lose our focus on the road which is one of the causes of road accidents.
So, what is the best way to use your mobile phone inside the car?
If you are the driver, you should place your mobile phone far away from your reach to reduce the desire to look at it every now and then. Placing it on the passenger side is not recommended since you will still have the tendency to reach out and check it whenever you hear a beep.
For vehicle passengers, using your mobile phone is allowed, but make sure that you will not use it to call the attention of the driver since you are distracting them. If you are caught, you will get penalized even when you are not the one driving. Even reading a text quickly or changing a song on your mobile phone is enough to get you ticketed when caught.
What’s worse, if you get involved in an accident that is caused by you getting distracted by your phone, your car insurance policy will become invalid. This is considered as an at-fault claim by insurance holders.
It is possible for you to use your mobile phone while you are driving if it is in a hands-free mode. This means that the phone is working but your hands will remain behind the wheel. You can wear a Bluetooth wireless headset, or program your phone to direct you to your next destination prior to leaving your home or office. This will reduce the need to check your phone every now and then. However, although going hands-free is allowed, you can still be stopped by police officers if they think you pose a risk to other drivers.
The cost of penalties for reckless drivers has doubled in 2017 in an effort to reduce the number of offenses being recorded in the UK. However, based on the data submitted by RAC, 26 percent of those motorists who were aware of the stiffer penalties in 2017 admit that they are still using their mobile phones while driving.
Among the data that RAC has gathered is that there are four in ten motorists who use their phones for calling while in a traffic jam, while 39 percent admitted that they still check their social media accounts, texts, and emails while driving. The best way to avoid getting fined is to pull over first safely, turn your engine off, then use your phone as this minimizes the risk of you getting into a road accident.
For the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), although hands-free lets motorists still use their phones while driving, it is still not considered safe. As a matter of fact, this can increase the likelihood of getting into an accident because the driver is not paying much attention to what they are doing. According to them, motorists who are on the phone are not fully aware of what is going on around them which can cause them to miss out on important road signs. If this is the case, there is a huge chance that not only will they get into accidents, but they can also cause damage to property and injury to others because of their negligence.