In 2016, Prime Minister Theresa May vowed to make using a phone when driving as unacceptable as drink-driving. Last April, tougher penalties were introduced to deter phone use at the wheel.
But since then, more than 200 drivers a day have been prosecuted for using their phone while driving. That means they’ve been slapped with six points on their licence and a £200 fine.
Some drivers complain they find the law confusing around the areas of making calls while driving and using a phone as a sat nav device. Many reason this confusion comes from being told it’s okay to use a phone while driving when it’s in hands-free mode.
This is what motorists need to know to stay on the right side of the law. As importantly, it will help keep them and other road users safe.
The law: hands-free phone use
Using a hand-held phone at the wheel is dangerous but it’s not great using hands-free either
Mobile phone dangers at the wheel aren’t just limited to drivers who hold handsets. Research shows that even drivers who talk using hands-free kits can be less safe.
Highlighting how dangerous using a mobile phone while at the wheel can be, the penalty for using a handset was increased at the beginning of March 2017. The fine was doubled to £200 and six penalty points for drivers caught phoning or texting. It means anyone caught twice for the offence could lose their licence.
However, research shows that simply the act of talking on a phone while driving can lead to greater distraction and taking longer to react to hazards.
Why is talking on the phone while driving dangerous?
A new Driving Emotion Test has been designed by psychologists to enable drivers to find out how likely they are to get wound up in their car. Using technology that monitored people’s facial reactions, where their eyes were looking, and their heart rate, 1000 drivers were tested. The researchers from Goldsmiths, University of London fed the data into a computer using specially created software.
The result gave each participant an individual score and the results revealed that women drivers tend to get angrier than men. If you dispute this, you can have a go using a version of the Driving Emotion Test on a special website set up by car company Hyundai which commissioned the research.
What did the Driving Emotion Test find?
The tests included drivers being undertaken, honked at, shouted at and having to deal with back-seat drivers or people who failed to indicate. The results showed that women were 12 per cent more likely to react angrily than men. Men, meanwhile, are more comfortable opening up if they’re in a car. Just fewer than a third of men (29 per cent) said they find it easier to have a conversation in a car. And 14 per cent even claim that they drive better if they’re having a chat.
Why do women drivers get cross?