Next steps announced to boost road safety and close mobile phone loophole Image Open Government Licence v3.0

Have your say on making activities like taking photos and playing games on hand-held mobile phones illegal while driving

Under new government plans people using a hand-held mobile phone in all circumstances while driving will be breaking the law.

It’s already a criminal offence to use a hand-held mobile phone to call or text while driving. But not for other actions such as taking photos.

Drivers have escaped punishment due to a legal loophole where such actions aren’t seen as ‘interactive communication’, and therefore do not fit the current definition of the offence. Roads Minister Baroness Vere 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.

“That’s why we’re looking to strengthen the law to make using a hand-held phone while driving illegal in a wider range of circumstances – it’s distracting and dangerous and for too long risky drivers have been able to escape punishment but this update will mean those doing the wrong thing will face the full force of the law.”

Drivers will still be able to use devices ‘hands-free’

Recognising that mobile phones are commonly used as a method of payment – such as at drive-thrus – an exemption will apply under the new proposals to contactless payments, if a vehicle is stationary, and if goods or services – such as a takeaway meal – are delivered immediately.

Ministers have rejected calls to go further by banning the use of hands-free functions. Drivers will still be able to continue safely using devices ‘hands-free’ while driving, such as a sat-nav secured in a cradle.

By updating the law, police can take immediate action if they see a driver holding and using their phone at the wheel. The penalties in place for using a hand-held mobile phone while driving are 6 penalty points and a £200 fine.

National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Roads Policing, Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, said:

“Using a mobile phone while driving is incredibly dangerous and being distracted at the wheel can change lives forever.

“Police will take robust action against those using a hand-held mobile phone illegally and proposals to make the law clearer are welcome.”

Details on how to take part in the consultation can be found here: