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Using Mobile Phones in the Car

By: Sally Aquire - Updated: 6 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Using Mobile Phones In The Car Using

Using a mobile phone whilst driving is not just dangerous; it's also illegal. Many drivers continue to do so, despite the changes in the law. Research from the UK Department for Transport suggests that drivers using their mobile phones whilst behind the wheel are four times more likely to be involved in an accident than those who don't.

Using Hand-Held Mobiles

The only situation in which it's acceptable to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving is when calling the emergency services. Even then, it is only acceptable when it is not safe to find somewhere to pull over and make the call.

Hands-Free Devices

Hands-free devices are also likely to affect your concentration levels and judgement skills, even though you don't need to take your hands off the steering wheel to use them. Reaction times can be up to fifty per cent slower than normal when using a mobile phone in the car. If you encounter a situation in which a split-second lapse in concentration can be the difference between avoiding a situation or not, this can have a significant impact on the outcome.

If you need to make a phone call or answer the phone, don't do so whilst you're on the road. This includes while your vehicle is stationary at traffic lights or while you are stuck in a queue of traffic. By potentially compromising your concentration, judgement and reactions, using a mobile phone in the car can pose a threat to other road users, as you are less likely to see pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists until it's too late to avoid them, particularly if you are not spending enough time checking your mirrors (and blind spot, if necessary) because you are distracted. If the police see you using a mobile phone while driving, they class this as failing to have adequate control of your vehicle. This can result in prosecution, a fine and penalty points.

If using a mobile phone while driving is absolutely unavoidable (for example, if an urgent call comes through and you simply can't ring back later), you should quickly find a safe place to pull over and take the call. Don't simply switch to a hands-free device, as this is no safer than using a mobile phone. It would be better to put your phone on voicemail before you get in the car. Your phone will then pick up any messages without distracting you, and you can simply pick them up later.


The law takes a dim view on using mobile phones while driving. At the very least, you can usually expect to receive three penalty points and a £60 fine. However, if the case goes to court (for example, if your dangerous driving results in an injury or fatality to another road user), the penalties are more severe. In this situation, you can often expect to receive a fine of up to £1000 (for most drivers) or £2500 (for bus or coach drivers, and drivers of goods vehicles) and a discretionary disqualification, as well as penalty points.

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