Even though it has been illegal to use a mobile ‘phone whilst driving since 2003, and although new legislation came into effect in March 2017 which saw increases in penalties, drivers are still seen using hand held mobiles when on the move. The latest government directive has seen penalties increase and now you could be fined £200 and get six points on your licence, if you’re less than two years from passing your test 6 points would mean losing your licence. Should you refuse or dispute, then this can mean that you could be taken to court, or if the police think the offence is so bad that a fixed penalty isn’t enough you could be taken to court. Fines in court will almost certainly be larger and disqualification is possible, the maximum fine in a court is £1,000, or £2,500 if you were driving a bus or a goods vehicle. If you have to use a hand held mobile then you’ll first have to stop driving, which means parking up safely and legally with the handbrake on and the engine switched off. Police forces in Britain penalised almost 6,000 motorists for the offence in the four weeks after tougher punishments took effect, equivalent to one every seven minutes.
Letters to newspapers and comments made on social media sites often query why, with all the technology available to us, we cannot make it difficult, or impossible to use mobiles when on the move in motor vehicles, however, help may be on the way from technology giant Apple. The latest iPhones will soon offer a Do Not Disturb While Driving mode, which blocks all notifications, and turns off the phone’s screen. This will not be automatic; you will still have to activate it first, but then the ‘phone will detect when you are driving and deactivates all notifications, for example from Facebook, WhatsApp and so on. It also allows the user to set up a message that automatically replies and tells the caller: ‘I’m driving’. This technology does not stop the use of the mobile of course, but at least it may prevent the built in curiosity in us all to see who was texting or calling us.
Motoring groups have welcomed the development, one comment from Pete Williams, who is the spokesman for BePhoneSmart a campaign operated by the RAC said: “These days it is less phone calls and more the pings and buzzes of texts and social media apps that have the potential to distract a driver from the task at hand.”
It is not entirely fool proof though as an Apple spokesman commented that users will also be able to set favourite contacts that are still able to reach them even when they are driving. There is another way of course, the mobile could be switched off, and that is a sure way to stop texts and calls coming through!