New driving law means even passengers could be fined for using their phones Bedford News

The latest Motoring Act updates mean that even passengers looking at their mobile phones could face penalties.

A major rule change around phone use was introduced on March 25 and closed a long-standing loophole that allowed drivers to get away with dangerous behavior such as taking photos or scrolling through playlists driving.

Although the new law is primarily aimed at stopping dangerous driving, it also affects anyone supervising a learner driver.

Under the previous law, any passenger supervising a provisional license holder was prohibited from making or receiving calls or texts and faced the same £200 fine and six penalty points imposed on the offending driver.

Using a phone while supervising a learner, even for offline activities, is illegal

Now they also face the same restrictions as any driver, effectively banning them from using their phones.

The law was changed after authorities ruled the previous wording – established 17 years ago – was outdated and did not cover the wide range of functions offered by modern smartphones.

Previously, it stopped the use of “interactive communication”, such as making calls or sending texts or emails. However, it did not cover other offline uses, such as taking photos or videos or even playing games.

The new wording makes it an offense to use a phone or other handheld device for unconnected mobile app actions while driving, including while stopped at traffic lights or in traffic.

This means that everything from searching for downloaded music to checking the time or rejecting a call is now illegal and punishable by a £200 fine and six penalty points.

For drivers who have held their license for less than two years, this is enough to earn them an instant disqualification and require them to retake their test.

The only exceptions are when making an emergency call to 999 or using a phone app to pay for services at places like drive-thru restaurants or road tolls.

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This notice was published: 2022-03-31 07:53:25

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