Matthew BeedhamEditor, SHIFT by TNW
Matthew is the editor of SHIFT. He likes electric cars, and other things with wheels, wings, or hulls. Matthew is the editor of SHIFT. He likes electric cars, and other things with wheels, wings, or hulls.
Starting next year, UK drivers will be considered criminals if they pick up their phone whilst driving.
Ok, that sounds pretty bleak, but in other words: the UK government has finally closed a loophole in legislation which made it illegal for drivers to text or call on their mobile phones whilst driving, but didn’t hold them to the same standard if they were playing games or taking pictures.
Before these new laws it was fine to cruise whilst playing Candy Crush, but not ok to drive and text at the same time, despite the level of distraction being largely the same. The update will consider anyone that picks up their hand held device whilst driving to be breaking the law. I officially recognize this as the closure of the ‘Candy Crush loophole.’
[Read: Tel Aviv pilots ‘electric road’ in attempt to charge public busses on the fly]
The original laws, which were set 16 years ago, have failed to keep pace with the evolution of smartphones and led to the ambiguity over what constitutes a dangerous distraction from driving and what doesn’t.
Drivers will still be able to use some functions of their phone if it’s in a hands-free cradle mounted to the dashboard or is activated by voice command. It’s probably about time that you got to grips with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
Built-in sat-nav and infotainment systems are exempt from the laws.
In 2019, there were 637 casualties on British roads where a driver had been using a hand-held mobile phone at the time of the incident, BBC reports.
Those that continue to flout the new laws could be subject to six penalty points on their license and a £200 ($260) fine. Bear in mind that UK drivers will lose their driving license at 12 points.
New drivers are a particular focus, though. Get caught illegally using your phone within the first two years of driving and you’ll lose your license straight away.
Full details of the new laws can be found here.
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