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The dangers of using a mobile phone while driving are pretty scary – not only does using a mobile while driving slow reaction times by 50%, it also makes you four times more likely to crash.
Do you know the law?
Aside from the safety risks, the law is pretty strict on dial-driving too; if you’re caught in the act you’ll find yourself on the receiving end of a £100 fine and three penalty points.
If your case goes to court that fine could rise to as much as £1,000 and you could even be banned from driving.
New drivers need to consider that you could lose your licence if you get six or more penalty points within two years of passing your test.
Texting at the wheel isn’t ok!
Although it’s been illegal to use a hand-held device at the wheel for over a decade now, a recent RAC study of over 1,500 motorists found over half (61%) didn’t realise texting at the wheel of a stationary vehicle with the engine on was an offence.
So that means even if you’re stopped at traffic lights, in a traffic jam, or even if you’re parked up with the engine running, if you use your phone it’s an offence.
In fact the only times a driver can use a phone while at the wheel is if:
- you need to call 999 (or 112) in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop
- you are safely parked
The dangers of using a mobile at the wheel
You may think there’s nothing wrong with using a mobile while driving, but if you have to take one hand off the wheel, and an eye off the road, you must then simultaneously steer, change gears and operate switches and indicators with one hand. This can prove hazardous!
If you’re stopped at a pelican crossing and you take your eyes off the road to take a call you could, for instance, miss a pedestrian who has started to cross the road at the last second and pull out on them.
Or if you take a call while stopped at traffic lights you’ll be distracted from what’s happening on the road around you, meaning you could miss an emergency vehicle trying to get through, or miss your signal, leading to other drivers getting irritated and impatient.
In fact anything that distracts you from driving, whether you’re moving or stationary, can increase your crash risk by three times, and driver distraction is thought to a be a contributory factor in more than one-in-five (22%) of crashes.
Even hands-free isn’t completely safe!
Even though you can still use a hands-free device while at the wheel, if the police think you’re distracted and not in control of your vehicle you could still be stopped and penalised.
And because it’s the call itself that is the main distraction, there’s even an argument that using a hands-free device is just as dangerous as using a hand-held device and significantly more dangerous than having a chatty passenger sitting next to you.
As dangerous as drink-driving
There are also studies that have shown the effect of talking on a phone while driving can actually have more of an impact on driver reaction times than driving with a blood alcohol level of 80mg per 100ml of blood – the current limit in England and Wales.
So now you’re aware of the risks, think twice before using your phone in the car, and be sure to let your friends and family know of the dangers, too.